Charles J. Vallone Scholarships Awarded To 25 Area Students
An estimated 3.2 million young people will turn 18 years old in 2009, making them the largest group of high school seniors ever. At the same time, job losses have reached 822,282 so far this year, more than twice as many as last year. Unemployment is expected to break 9 percent nationally soon.
Despite the gloomy economic outlook, 25 graduating seniors of the class of 2009, winners of Judge Charles J. Vallone Scholarships, demonstrated hope, inspiration, confidence and optimism for the future at the June 2 meeting of the Astoria Civic Association.
Olympia Bardis, a Bronx H.S. of Science senior and a $1,500 scholarship winner, will be the first person in her family to attend a college at New York University. "I hope I succeed and thank you for helping me out in the beginning," she said.
Alba Dodaj, of St. Michael's Academy, also won a $1,500 scholarship. She arrived in the U.S. from her native Albania last September. This September she will attend Baruch College. She dedicated her award to her family in Albania.
John Ketchum finished number 1 in his class of 2008 at St. Francis Prep and was awarded the top $4,000 scholarship. "Tonight is about something bigger," said Ketchum. "It's a challenge to use our gift to advance the human condition...to make sure that the next generation gets a chance to better humanity."
Justin Delgado, awarded a $750 scholarship, was commended by his principal. "I want to tell you how proud we are of Justin and the great work he's done," said Daniel Korb, principal of the H.S. of Applied Communication.
Alexia Makrigiannis, also awarded a $750 scholarship, was accompanied by her college advisor at St. Demetrios H.S., Helen Karagiorgos. "I want to thank the Vallone family for all their assistance," Karagiorgos said.
Judge Charles J. Vallone was the first executive chairman of the Astoria Civic Association. The scholarships were founded in 1967 by his widow, Leah Vallone.
"We literally have helped thousands of kids to start their college careers," said Judge Vallone's son, Peter Vallone Sr., current executive chairman of the Astoria Civic Association and former Speaker of the City Council.
Joan DiMarco, chairwoman of the scholarship committee, said the rigorous process of selecting students is highlighted by a personal interview. "We meet a wonderful group of young people," she said. "It's really a very special day." All scholarship winners also receive a City Citation Award, DiMarco said.
"I know how hard the kids worked," Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. said in congratulating the recipients and their parents. "[Their effort] is not just for grades but to make themselves the best persons they can be and to make a better society."
Danielle Amodeo, recipient of a $2,500 scholarship, was praised by her teacher at Dominican Academy who said, "I've been honored to have her in a classroom with me for the last four years."
Edward Elejalde, winner of a $1,500 scholarship, a student at Aviation H.S. and an intern at a jet engine maintenance company at JFK airport, also serves his community as a volunteer at Mt. Sinai Hospital. He will attend City College and hopes to be an engineer. "With this [scholarship] I will be able to begin my journey," he said.
Melissa Hurtado, awarded a $2,000 scholarship, will graduate from Archbishop Molloy H.S. and attend St. John's University in the fall. "I thank my parents for always supporting me," she said.
Kevin Johnson, winner of a $3,000 scholarship, will graduate from Monsignor McClancy H.S. He will attend Baruch College. Johnson said the Vallone scholarships send a message of generosity and education.
Irma Calderon graduating from Baccalaureate School, also won a $1,500 scholarship. Chiara Colicino, graduating from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts; Elizabeth Evangelou, graduating from The Mary Louis Academy; Theilogia Karagiorgis, graduating from William Cullen Bryant H.S.; Donte Ledbetter, graduating from John Bowne H.S.; Sherman Lee, graduating from Francis Lewis H.S.; Samantha Matzio, graduating from St. John's Prep; Nourallah Neanea, graduating from Long Island City H.S.; Jillian Papanicolaou, graduating from St. John's Prep; Matthew A. Pellerzi, graduating from Xavier H.S.; Anamika Saha, graduating from Stuyvesant H.S.; Linda Sewnariner, graduating from St. Vincent Ferrer H.S.; Bhavna Sharma, graduating from William Cullen Bryant H.S.; Moa Shoan, graduating from Garden School; Singh Simrnjeet, graduating from Queens Vocational H.S., and Felicia Vanacore, graduating from Long Island City H.S. all won $750 scholarships.
The Astoria Civic Association also acknowledged leaders of seven local Girl Scout troops at the meeting: Marissa Campos, Troop 4-213 at Most Precious Blood; Eileen Sileth, Troop 4-486, Immaculate Conception; Adrian Poulikidis, Troop 4-852, St. Catherine & George; Clair Doran, Troop 6-417, St. Rita's; Carmel Marrazzo, Troop 4-098, Steinway Reformed Church; Danielle Silverstein, St. Francis Girl Scouts and Anita Tomicich, St. Joseph's Girl Scouts. Coordinators Jeanne Cocoros and Arline Smith were also recognized.