The 2018 Recipients
Six graduating seniors from six high schools were awarded 2018 Justin Veatch Fund music scholarships on June 6th. This year’s recipients are Chloe Collins of Calvert Academy, Justin Giacchetto of North Salem HIgh School, Justin Hahn of Peekskill High School, Noah Mattison of Harrison High School, Alicia McMillan of The Ursuline School, and Chris Paraggio of Carmel High School.
The $1,000 awards along with personally inscribed metronomes were presented at an awards program at John C. Hart Memorial Library in Shrub Oak. Singer/songwriter Sloan Wainwright delivered an inspiring keynote, encouraging the recipients to apply their talents with patience and persistence for life-long pleasures and rewards.
Chloe Collins, graduating from Calvert Academy, plans to attend Belmont University in Nashville to further her education and songwriting skills. She also plans to take advantage of the Nashville music scene to perform in as many venues as she is able. Chloe says she was born to write. “I have spent many days in high school with a songbook on my left and a textbook on my right. I believe the act of creating something from a blank sheet of paper is the closest I will ever get to making magic.” Writing is only half of the equation for Collins who is also a dedicated musician who loves to perform and has volunteered her time and talent for many charitable events.
Justin Giacchetto, graduating from North Salem High School, plans to attend the University of Miami Frost School of Music. Giacchetto’s musical abilities have become well known for his lead guitar performances for the Westchester band Gilbert which won first place in the Ridgefield Bandjam Competition twice and performed on the main stage at the Pleasantville Music Festival. But Giacchetto is also versatile in his music styles performing on different instruments in the North Salem High School and All Westchester Jazz Bands. Giacchetto’s self stated goal is to fuse different genres of music to create new sounds.
Justin Hahn, graduating from Peekskill High School, plans to study music and sound recording at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. For Hahn, music has been an outgrowth of his upbringing, following in his father’s footsteps performing on the trombone. Hahn has played lead trombone for the Westchester Youth All Stars, Daisy Jopling’s “Awakening” Orchestra and the Westchester Honors Youth Ensemble. He also has played an integral role in Peekskill HIgh School’s City Singers A cappella ensemble.
Noahn Mattison, graduating from Harrison High School, plans to attend Purchase College. Mattison’s focus is jazz performance on the trumpet. Since 2017 he has been a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Combo Band and has won the Essentially Ellington Regional Festival solo award three years in a row. “I am really grateful to be chosen to receive this scholarship,” says Mattison. “I want my music to be meaningful and something that will help people, just like The (Justin Veatch) Fund.” As a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center youth program Mattison has regularly toured with mentors like Kenny Rampton and Wynton Marsalis.
Alicia McMillan, graduating from The Ursuline School, plans to pursue either a songwriting degree from Berklee School of Music or a studio composition degree from Purchase College. McMillan is a singer/songwriter who performs on piano and guitar and has a number of original recordings to her credit. She is also the first Justin Veatch Fund Scholarship recipient to be mentored by a previous recipient--Melissa Frabotta who was The Fund’s second scholarship winner in 2011.
Christopher Paraggio, graduating from Carmel High School, plans to attend New York University’s School of the Arts Clive Davis Institute. Paraggio is a classically trained cellist occupying first chair in the Carmel High School Orchestra but says his primary focus now is creating, recording and performing original alternative/experimental rock music. Paraggio lists a number of instruments that he plays including piano, electric bass, drums, mandolin and even theremin. He is also developing first-hand experience in business having helped to create and grow an online company that specializes in anti-chafe swimwear for boys and men. “I am honored to have been selected for The Justin Veatch Fund Scholarship,” says Paraggio. “It is truly a privilege to participate in Justin’s legacy in this way.”
Scholarships Began in 2009
The scholarships honor the legacy of Justin Veatch, a Yorktown High School senior who died from an accidental drug overdose in 2008. The 2018 awards bring to 35 the number of scholarships awarded by The Fund since it began the prize in 2009. “We started out with one scholarship to a Yorktown High School graduate,” says Jeffrey Veatch, Justin’s father and president of The Fund. “This year we had 26 applicants from 17 area high schools. These are highly talented and focused young people and picking just six was a difficult task,” says Veatch. “We hope to find individual sponsors for some of the awards so we can expand their number in 2019.”
The 2017 Recipients
Cooper Aquilino is graduating from Mahopac High School and plans to major in music education and film at Hunter College in New York City. He sings, plays piano, ukulele and writes songs but teaching and making people laugh and be happy is his passion. Cooper says he believes music can have a huge impact on a child’s life and has the ability to change a person’s thought process and how they perceive life. An assistant superintendent in his district says Cooper knows the importance of volunteerism and regularly participates in charitable and service-oriented activities as an individual well beyond his years.
Grace Dashnaw is graduating from Somers High School and plans to major in music at Ithaca College in the fall. She is a cellist who also plays piano, sings and composes. Her private cello teacher says she has the capabilities of a much older musician. Dashnaw says she sees herself playing all genres of music–in the pit for a Broadway musical, playing in a symphony orchestra or even studio work or touring with a chamber group.
Emily Fareed is graduating from Hendrick Hudson HIgh School and plans to major in music education with a concentration on voice at the University of Delaware. During her senior year Fareed served as senior choir leader which involved conducting and teaching in the leader’s absence. Her private voice teacher says Fareed possesses the highest level of musicianship and commitment. She appeared recently in a music video produced by Peekskill violinist Daisy Jopling.
Ellen Gruber is graduating from Hendrick Hudson High School and plans to major in performance, recording arts and acoustics at The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. In addition to piano and voice, Gruber’s main instruments are the oboe and english horn. Gruber was the only woodwind finalist in the Mannes Prep Concerto Competition and was awarded a spot in a summer program at Interlochen. With a keen interest in acoustics, Gruber wants to dedicate much of her efforts toward creating spaces that optimize the sound of musical performances.
Trevor Legeret is graduating from Connecticut’s Newtown High School and will be attending Pratt Institute where he plans to major in film. Legeret says he hopes to score music for film. He was part of The Justin Veatch Fund’s 2014 concert, opening for and performing with headliner Livingston Taylor. While Legeret plays several instruments his teachers described him as an excellent guitarist and magnetic front-man with an endless creative stream.
Gabrielle Sansone is graduating from Lakeland High School and plans to pursue musical theatre as a performer on Broadway and possibly television and film. Sansone is a vocalist with a long list of on-stage credits, performing in a variety of productions in the greater Westchester community and off Broadway in New York. She has been described by one of her teachers as a standout in every way from musical ability to ease of learning repertoire.
Victoria Vespucci is graduating from Yorktown High School and plans to major in music education at Crane School of Music at SUNY’s Potsdam College. Vespucci says her goal is to become a band teacher and also perform professionally as time permits. Her main instrument is the flute but she is also proficient on the piccolo, saxophone, clarinet and piano. Vespucci’s band director calls her one of the best flutists she has ever worked with.
The Justin Veatch Fund’s Mission
The Justin Veatch Fund is a 501(c)3 corporation and recognized New York State charity. In addition to scholarships The Fund creates music opportunities for teens. Jeffrey Veatch, Justin’s father, has presented the multi-media talk A Message from Justin to more than 35-thousand students with the goal that Justin’s story will inspire them to take better care of themselves and watch out for their friends when it comes to drugs and other substances. Justin’s story is also told in the independent documentary film Whispering Spirits which has been recommended by The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) and sent to its 80 affiliates in 29 states