Graduating high school seniors from four high schools were honored Wednesday, June 10th when The Justin Veatch Fund presented each of them with a $1,000 scholarship and a personally inscribed metronome. The metronomes are professional wind-up devices that can be put to use in practice or proudly displayed as a symbol of accomplishment. Yuika Abe of Rye, Gabriella Landicino of Yorktown, Katherine Amber Lewis of Goldens Bridge, and Gregory Tock of Mahopac received their awards at a ceremony held at John C. Hart Memorial Library in Shrub Oak, NY. Singer-songwriter Jessica Lynn provided the keynote address.
The Justin Veatch Fund honors the legacy of Yorktown High School senior Justin Veatch, who died tragically of an accidental drug overdose in 2008. The Fund has awarded scholarships to 16 musically talented graduates since 2009. “Being able to keep these scholarships coming and expand the number is a point of pride for us,” says Jeffrey Veatch, Justin’s father. “We started with one scholarship for a Yorktown graduate who was a personal friend of Justin’s and now we are inviting applicants from high schools in our surrounding area for four scholarships. The quality of the talent and level of community spirit exhibited by these young people is heartening and something that needs to be rewarded.”
Yuika Abe, graduating from Rye High School, sings, plays piano, and writes songs. Her recently completed EP “Shoes” was produced by Peter Calo — known for his work with Carly Simon, James Taylor, and Hall & Oats. Calo says Abe works at a level well beyond her years with beautiful melodies and mature, thoughtful lyrics. She has frequently been featured as a soloist in the chorus and vocal ensemble at Rye High School, and performed at a Justin Veatch Fund concert in 2012 headlined by former NY Yankee Bernie Williams and his All Star Band. Abe has still not decided which college to attend, but has been accepted to Berklee, Purchase College, and Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, among others.
Gabriella Landicino, graduating from Yorktown High School, plays clarinet and piano but her real forte is singing jazz, along with musical theater. One of her teachers calls Landicino one of the most talented student vocalists she has ever worked with. She adds, “You should enjoy her jaw-dropping talent now for free, or pay nicely for a ticket in the future.” Landicino was also featured in the Justin Veatch Fund concert headlined by Bernie Williams in 2012. Playing the lead role in “Hello Dolly” at Yorktown High School stands as one of her most notable recent performances. Landicino plans to study jazz and theater as well as international business at Marist College.
Katherine Amber Lewis, graduating from John Jay High School, sings, composes songs, and plays piano. Lewis first became known to The Justin Veatch Fund when she attended its 2010 Two-Day Summer Music Workshop. There, she connected with artist and vocal coach Sloan Wainwright, and has since performed as a backup vocalist and featured vocalist at a variety of Wainwright’s concerts. Lewis also performed at The Justin Veatch Fund concert headlined by Bernie Williams in 2012. One of her teachers describes Lewis as a hard working, self disciplined student who motivates others with her kind words and considerate actions. Lewis plans to study composition, music education, and music performance at New York University.
Gregory Tock, graduating from Mahopac High School, is a drummer and percussionist who also plays electric bass and piano. In addition to his active resume of high school performances and selection to the Northern Westchester Honors Youth Wind Ensemble, Tock formed the classic rock cover band Dead End in 2009. His main project today is the jazz/fusion band Crush, which recently completed the album “Fruit Salad.” Also notable is the fact that Tock achieved the rank Eagle Scout after raising $3,000 to build a musical playground for the Westchester Exceptional Children’s School in North Salem. He says the musical playground helps autistic students become more keenly aware of their surroundings and stimulates their interactions with each other. Tock plans to study music technology and percussion performance at New York University.
The Justin Veatch Fund is a 501(c)3 Organization and recognized New York State charity. The Fund co-sponsors monthly open mic nights, creates music workshops for teens and sponsors concerts that afford talented teens the opportunity to open for well known headliners. Jeffrey Veatch, Justin’s father, also travels around the region delivering a multi media talk titled “A Message from Justin” which addresses the issue of substance abuse among youth. As of this month the talk has reached more than 21-thousand young people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Justin’s story is also told in the documentary Whispering Spirits which premiered last November at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY. The 28-minute documentary is available to organizations for screenings at no charge by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.