Scholarships Awarded At OHEKA Garden Party

Keeper of the Castle Gary Melius meets with young guests on a tour of Oheka.

Keeper of the Castle Gary Melius meets with young guests on a tour of Oheka.

Friends of Oheka, an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to the protection, preservation and public awareness of Oheka Castle, threw its annual garden party at the Castle. Headed by President Ellen Schaffer, Friends of Oheka uses the garden party to raise funds for scholarships for students graduating from high school in the town of Huntington, who are pursuing the arts.

The Otto Kahn Awards (OKA) are granted in partnership with Gary Melius. It is their chosen way of honoring and remembering the legacy of the original owner of the castle, Otto Herman Kahn. Like Melius, Kahn was a philanthropist who generously supported struggling artists through-out his life time. Each student receives a scholarship of $3,500, all of which was raised at the previous year’s garden party at Oheka Castle.

Heading up the Garden Party Committee for Friends of Oheka were Frances Sadis and Kerri Sneden. They received generous support from Ellen Fleury of Fleury Designs, Matt Harris, Bill Bohn of Summit Graphics, Greg Genovese, Douglas Martines Photography, Frank Yolango and the Walt Whitman High School Chamber Orchestra, Matthew Hoffman and the Walt Whitman High School Jazz Band, Otto Keil Florists, Kelly Melius, Nancy Melius, and Gary Melius as well as the many corporate sponsors.

The honorees at this year’s event were Steven and Paul Gentile.

Paul Gentile is the General Manager/Director of Operations and the CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) of L.I. Adventureland. Paul is tasked with balancing between the best that amusement parks can offer the entire family while preserving the parks nostalgia. As many generations of Long Islanders know, Adventureland brings smiles to all who attend the park.

Steven Gentile is the President of L.I. Adventureland. Steve enjoys the challenge of changing the parks landscape with new rides and attractions to offer the best experience to visitors, while maintaining the integrity of Adventureland’s nearly 60 year history.

This year’s Otto Kahn Award winner are:

Jaycee Cardoso, a 2019 graduate of Walt Whitman High School. Jaycee will be attending the Manhattan School of Music in the fall.  Frank Yolango, director of Orchestra at WWHS, said that Jaycee is a serious musician and violinist who can balance his academics as well as extra-curricular activities with professionalism and excellence.

John DiGiorgio III, a 2019 graduate of Half Hollow Hills High School West who will be attending the University of Southern California’s BFA Acting program in the fall. John received the LI Arts Alliance Scholar Artist Award of Merit 2018/2019 and participated in the NYSSMA Allstate Mixed Chorus. Jennifer Ievolo, a Fine Arts Teacher/Drama Director at HHHW says John “is destined for great things.”

Peter Mainetti, a 2019 graduate of Northport High School who will be attending CUNY/Queens in the fall. Peter participated as a musician and composer while at Northport in the Jazz Band, the Symphony Orchestra, IB/AP Music Theory as well as the Gemini Youth Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Edward Smaldone of the Queens College said the Peter is an outstanding young man and that he would be an asset to any project he attends.

Reyha Meteis, a 2019 graduate of Walt Whitman High School who will be attending Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in the fall. Reyha participated in AP Studio in Art, Art Portfolio, Drawing and Painting I and II and the National Art Honor Society. WWHS Art Teacher David Rickmers said “Reyha is profoundly talented and responsible young person”. Reyha’s art had a significant showing at the Hecksher Museum.

Elisabeth Shim, a 2019 graduate of Cold Spring Harbor High School will be attending Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music: IU Ballet Theatre in the fall. At CSHHS, Elisabeth was a Teacher’s Assistant for Primary level dancers. She was also a full time apprentice with the Eglevsky Ballet Company and did summer programs with the American Ballet Theatre in NYC. Maurice Brandon Curry, Executive Artistic Director at Eglevsky Ballet says “I have discovered Miss Shim’s work as disciplined, focused, and maintaining a compelling drive for perfection.”