After growing up together, 'Broadview Kids' to head off to college

When writing a college admission essay, Matt Bouzakis chose a unique topic: his neighborhood.

“My hometown of New Milford, Connecticut, revolves around the iconic center of town known as the New Milford Green. Despite being the largest town in the state in terms of land area, it seems as if the whole community comes together on the Green,” he wrote.

“But what has shaped me the most is the street from which I was raised,” he wrote. “This street is my personal center of town.”

Matt is one of a group of eight boys and two girls known as the “Broadview Kids.” They grew up together, established friendships and consider themselves family.

They will all graduate from New Milford High School Saturday.

Nicole Pliego, mother of Luke Pliego, spearheaded an effort to make a large banner for the road wishing all the graduates well.

“It’s been a pretty amazing place to raise kids,” Nicole said. “When we all moved in, there were a lot of kids.”

In time, the neighbors became friendly with one another as did their children,

There are 19 homes on the street. Eight youth grew up on the road but two kids who lived nearby and were friendly with Broadview families were adopted into the close-knit circle of friends.

“The Broadview cul-de-sac was so incredible, “said Jennifer Foster, mother of Luke Foster. “These kids were all born in the same year, grew up all playing together on our street and have remained great friends.”

Luke Pliego acknowledged the kids on the street have always been there for one another.

“No matter where any of us go, we all have friends in each other and will always be there for each other,” he said. “Over the years, the bond has gotten stronger.”

Throughout the childhood, the youth rode bikes and played games and sports. They had pool parties and bonfires. They supported and encouraged one another.

“Not a day went by where any of us sat alone at home,” Matt wrote. “Each year made memories that were more unforgettable than the last.”

Luke Pliego said if anyone ever got upset with another, the relationship was mended quickly because no one could stay upset very long. Their bond was too tight.

Maggie Pascento said as one of two girls on the street, it was like having “a whole bunch of brothers looking out for us.”

“We grew up as brothers and sisters rather than friends,” she said.

Maggie emphasized the bond that is shared among all the families that have an open door policy for the kids.

“If my mom isn’t home or I’m having a bad day, I’ll go next door and see whoever is home and get a hug if I need one,” Maggie said.

“If I’m craving chocolate and don’t have any, I’ll send a message in our group chat and one of the boys will show up at the door with chocolate,” she related.

“I have them wrapped around my finger,” Maggie quipped. “They’ll bring my garbage cans up for me if I give them Oreos.”

Andrew Grinnell didn’t’ grow up on Broadview but spent a lot of time the Pliego residence from an early age. He was accepted as one of the “Broadview Kids.”

Andrew described the bond between the friends as one that “kept getting better” each year.

Nicole Pliego said she and other parents are impressed how the youth have remained so close all these years.

“They all do have other interest, but they’re still tight,” she said.

Matt’s mother, Gayle Bouzakis, described the students as “a nice group of kids” whose parents all get along too.

Jennifer Foster said the trust among the parents and kids runs deep. “We never worried about them going down the street … they’ve known each other since they were little and all played games, going from one house to the next house. It’s really special.”

A familiar story to all the families is one that involves Luke Pliego and Maggie when they were young.

One day, Maggie, carrying a purse in her hand, headed over to Luke’s house, saw him riding his bike and shifted a hand to her hip. She told Luke she wanted to play at her house.

Luke got off the bike and Maggie hopped right on and headed to her house. Luke carried her purse, following her to their next adventure.

“Each and every one of us brought the other happiness and provided loving support when the other was down,” Matt reflected in his essay.

“As the final days go by, we dread the day we go off to college, but know we will all return in the summer to share stories of our first college experience,” Matt summed up.