Ortiz Garners Vandersall and Shoemaker Scholarships
Alicia Ortiz left her mark on the Huntington High School music and marching band programs. While the Class of 2012 member and is headed to the University of Delaware to study biology, her friends, teachers and classmates will never be far from her heart or mind.
Ms. Ortiz garnered several prestigious awards in the days leading up to the graduation ceremony, including the $500 Jean Hoerner Vandersall Scholarship and the $1,000 Linda Shoemaker Blue Devil Scholarship for her outstanding effort and performance.
"As the Blue Devil marching band's field major, Ali served in a role that is a combination of drum major and section leader," explained drum major Justin LoScalzo. "She was able to balance all her responsibilities and manage to keep not only herself, but all the members, smiling."
Ms. Ortiz was a key member of the Blue Devil band throughout high school. She worked closely with fellow student-musicians and with the band's co-directors, Brian Stellato and Jason Giachetti.
"Ali is an incredibly hard worker whose personality, humor and character earned her tremendous respect of her peers and teachers," Mr. Giachetti said. Ms. Ortiz also served as a flute section leader with the marching band and was a member of Huntington's pit orchestra and select wind ensemble.
"Of all the students I've had the pleasure of knowing during my ten years of teaching, Alicia ranks extremely high in terms of work ethic and level of energy and passion," Mr. Stellato said. "I cannot express how unique and exciting an individual Alicia is. She is such a funny and unique young woman. Ali impresses me so much."
The well-liked teenager was also a member of Huntington High School's Habitat for Humanity club chapter and played on the softball team. But, despite these extracurricular activities and a sterling academic record, Ms. Ortiz is most closely identified with Huntington music and marching band programs.
"Ali was an excellent leader and role model for the members of the band," said Mr. LoScalzo, salutatorian of the Class of 2012. "Her dedication, hard work and talent are all qualities that I admire. Over her four years in the program, Ali's contributions have been endless."
Ms. Ortiz left what might become a lasting legacy with the marching band, "demonstrating successful and inspiring leadership skills," Mr. Stellato said. "She was extremely successful at building respectful and strong relationships with her peers."
The scholarships garnered by Ms. Ortiz honor two very special people. Ms. Shoemaker was a longtime Huntington School District music teacher and Blue Devil marching band director. The Linda Shoemaker Scholarship is presented by the Band Parents' Association to a graduating senior "who best exemplifies the benefits of membership in the Blue Devil band on his or her personal growth during high school, not only within school, but outside as well."
The Jean Hoerner Vandersall Scholarship is funded by Scott and Amy Vandersall. Ms. Ortiz is the first recipient of the new award, which will be presented each year to a graduating Huntington High School senior who has excelled in both academics and music.
"It is our wish to establish a scholarship in memory of my mother-in-law, Jean Hoerner Vandersall, who passed away in 2008," wrote Amy Vandersall in letter to the district. "Jean was a resident of Huntington from the 1950's until the time of her death. She taught piano and gave piano recitals throughout the Long Island area."
It's the Vandersall's intention to award a $500 scholarship in each of the next five years beginning this past spring. "After five years, we would decide whether or not to renew it for another five years," Amy Vandersall said.
Scott Vandersall is member of Huntington High School's Class of 1977. He went on to earn a BA in economics at Colby College and an MBA with a concentration in financial services at Boston University. He is employed as regional vice president of TD Bank for the Massachusetts north shore in the Greater Boston area.
Jean Hoerner Vandersall passed away on March 30, 2008. She was an accomplished pianist and a member of the Manhattan School of Music's faculty. Mrs. Vandersall also maintained a very active teaching studio in Huntington and was an inspiration to her students. Mrs. Vandersall and her husband, Thornton sent three sons through the Huntington School District.
Scott and Amy Vandersall, who reside in New Hampshire, intend to work with Huntington High School officials during the annual selection process.