The October Dawn scholarship is presented annually to a graduating Huntington High School senior. It carries a generous stipend and is a very special award that in most years goes to just one individual. In a rare departure from tradition, two members of the Class of 2018 were honored.
Joel Alfaro and Cindy Ortiz both captured this year’s October Dawn scholarships. The sensational college-bound teenagers each won a $2,000 award.
The scholarship is presented in memory of Kathryn A. DeGelleke, a special education teacher and Centerport resident who passed away September 22, 2009 after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 53 years old.
Scott DeGelleke presented a pair of $2,000 scholarships in honor of his wife, Kathryn
Mrs. DeGelleke worked in the district as a home tutor and provided instructional support services. Her husband, Scott presented Mr. Alfaro and Ms. Ortiz with the scholarships during Huntington’s senior academic awards ceremony in the high school auditorium.
Scholarship applicants are asked to submit a one-page essay detailing what obstacles they have overcome in high school, their future plans and why they believe they should be awarded the scholarship.
Mr. DeGelleke noted that it’s rather unusual to present two scholarship awards, but he said the pair of exceptional teenagers were both deserving and he found it impossible to select one over the other.
Mr. Alfaro is headed to Colgate University. He said the key to his success has been trying his best, never giving up and participating in extracurricular activities that interest him. The teenager developed a close mentoring relationship with high school social studies teacher Jordan Gould.
A member of four different academic honor societies and a Distinguished Senior after compiling a grade average of at least a 90 during every semester of high school, Mr. Alfaro intends to study at Colgate to be a social studies teacher. He was involved in the high school’s student government, including such initiatives as the stuff the bus food drive and Homecoming Day parade float building.
Ms. Ortiz will be attending Cayuga Community College. She also plans to study for a teaching career with a preference for early childhood education.
The teenager interned with social studies teacher Anthony Troffa during her senior year and it solidified her interest in the teaching profession. A strong work ethic and an ability to easily connect with others are among Ms. Ortiz’ many strengths.
A Key Club member for two years, Ms. Ortiz really made her mark outside of school by volunteering at the Salvation Army with its Angels for Kids initiative, which helps provide toys during the holidays for children from economically disadvantaged families.
In addition to Mr. Troffa, the teenager has been especially close to high school teachers Kathleen Sambour and Andrea Neugbauer and teacher assistant Danielle Sangiovanni.
Mr. DeGelleke proudly posed for a commemorative photo on the high school stage with each of the scholarship recipients flanking him on either side.