Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Risking leadership rewarded salutatorian

By PRISCILLA GREEAR, Special to the Bulletin | Published July 18, 2013

CARROLLTON—As a freshman at Carrollton High School, Robert Nicolas Fazio heard one morning over the announcements about the opportunity to run for student council. He decided to listen to his heart and give it a shot—a move that made quite the difference in his high school experience.

“I thought about trying it in junior high and just went and tried, and lo and behold, after elections I was vice president for my class, and I held it for three years,” he said. “I was really shocked and excited.”

Growing into leadership, his senior year he became student body president. And he had “a blast” as the council planned homecoming weekend and the Sadie Hawkins dance among other tasks.

“I’ve gotten a little more confident as time has gone by. … I used to not be as willing to put myself out there as I am now,” he said. “It was always a great group of people and helped to lead to a lot of friendships outside of the normal people you’d be friends with.”

The son of Robert and Terri Fazio, Fazio graduated as salutatorian from Carrollton and will attend Georgia Tech with a full-tuition Zell Miller Scholarship. He is a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Carrollton where he was youth of the year in 2013.

Fazio was strengthened in discipleship through his participation after his freshman year in the archdiocesan Christian Leadership Institute.

“It definitely gave me a lot of tools I needed for being confident in being a leader. It gave me a new sense of duty. If you have the skills, it’s needed in the world,” he said.

As a sophomore he attended as school representative the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership program that further equipped him and provided “outstanding role models and friends across the state.” He returned to volunteer in 2012 and 2013.

“I typically go to the beat of my own drum,” he said. “I’ve never felt a lot of peer pressure.”

At Carrollton, Fazio loved his math and history classes. He also enjoyed acting and singing in the performing arts program and performing in four theater productions. And he happily did so alongside his mother, the performing arts accompanist. He now plans to join an a cappella group in college and will consider student government.

Kurt Hitzeman taught him advanced placement U.S. history and anthropology.

“He was very humble and he was interested in learning for the sake of learning. … He wants to know the truth about the world around him and that was always apparent,” Hitzeman said.

Fazio also volunteered as Hitzeman’s assistant golf coach for a junior high team, in addition to playing on the high school team where he was three-time MVP. As volunteer assistant “he showed up to every match and practice. He got nothing for it. He did that all out of service,” said Hitzeman.

His success goes beyond his achievements, the faculty member said.

“He also was respected beyond just the accolades that he received. People looked up to him and how he went about his business. He lives out the mission God calls him to live out each and every day of his life,” Hitzeman said. His faith “certainly plays out without him being pushy about anything. He’s choosing to live out his mission.”

At OLPH, Fazio found mentors to encourage him. He also served as a peer youth leader.

“It’s a solid base for me to go out and live my life. My parish, in particular, has given me plenty of great role models,” he said.

Academically, Fazio said he simply focused on always doing his best. As to avoiding destructive influences, “there were plenty of good people to surround yourself with.”

He originally aspired to play golf in college, but by his senior year decided to give up that idea. After initial disappointment, he now is excited to attend Tech and major in business.

“I hope to have a career in the golf industry and eventually start my own company,” he said. “I really like people and business just provides that platform where it’s a constant human interaction.”

As he marches onward to live out his mission, he will always cherish his years at Carrollton High School. “There were a bunch of kids walking around school so ready to graduate,” Fazio said. “I was there saying, I really didn’t want to leave yet.”