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2012Giddings Foundation
Scholarship Recipients

The Alice and Murray Giddings Foundation announced nine recipients of the 2012 Giddings Scholarship in May 2012. In addition, Taylor Wenk of Chatham was chosen as an alternate Giddings scholar for 2011. Each of the ten recipients was awarded a $5000 scholarship directly applicable to his or her post secondary certificate / degree program. The 2012 Giddings Scholarship recipients and their families were honored at a reception on June 10, 2012, at the Winding Brook Country Club. The 2012 Giddings Scholars are:

Michael Thomas Bienes, Jr.

Michael Thomas Bienes, Jr. is the son of Michael and Michelle Bienes. He is ranked 4th in his graduating class at New Lebanon High School. Michael has truly excelled academically, particularly as an accelerated math/science student. He is a member of National Honor Society, recipient of the Wells College 21st Century Young Leader Award, and a 2011 Scholar Athlete. When he is not busy exploring the world of nanotechnology, Michael stands out through his participation in many extracurricular activities and community service. He is a member of New Lebanon's Varsity Basketball and Varsity Track & Field teams. He has also been a loyal member of the chess club, senior band, and jazz band all four years at New Lebanon High School. Michael's community service includes mentoring and tutoring younger students in Math; serving in the concession stand and as a baseball umpire for the Shatford Little League; and assisting at numerous New Lebanon Central School PTA functions. He had a positive impact in the lives of children at the local before and after school program; where he helped with homework, craft activities, sports events, and health and safety programs. He was employed for two years at the Town of Lebanon Summer Youth Program; and is currently working as a childcare staff at a local childcare agency for school aged children. Michael will be pursuing his dream of attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this fall, where he was accepted as an Early Decision Applicant. He will be majoring in Computer Engineering.

Austin Fernandez

Austin Fernandez is the son of Kathleen Bolstad-Fernandez and Rick Fernandez. He is Valedictorian of the Class of 2012, and is an academic and volunteer leader at Ichabod Crane High School. He was named National Hispanic Scholar, AP Scholar, and earned a National Merit Commendation and National Honor Society membership in 2011. He won the RIT Innovation and Creativity Award and a NYS Excellence Scholarship. His interests are varied, as evidenced by his membership at ICC in the Film Club and Habitat for Humanity School Club; and his regular participation in Band and Chorus. Austin's sport of choice is running, whether on the Cross Country Team, the Indoor Track Team, or the Outdoor Track and Field Team. He was Captain of Cross Country and Indoor Track, and has mentored younger team members; his perseverance and talent led him to compete at the State Qualifiers and Dartmouth Invitational. He volunteers weekly at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and annually since 2008 at the ICC Booster Club Track Camp. He has volunteered yearly for the Salvation Army Bell Ringer campaign. Austin has been employed in several positions, including summer work for the Town of Kinderhook and lawn work for local residents. He has also served as Assistant Producer and Cameraman for the local Public Access station. Austin plans to pursue a career in Psychology, and will attend Northeastern University for his Bachelor's Degree program.

Cole Samuel Gleason,

Cole Samuel Gleason, son of Sam and Mary Gleason, is the Salutatorian of this year's graduating class at Chatham High School. In addition to excelling academically, Cole has exhibited leadership and been involved in numerous volunteer and community service activities. He is a Youth Minister at St. James Church and has participated in Habitat for Humanity. He was inspired as a participant in the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Seminar to bring the importance of volunteerism back to Chatham High School. Cole created Chatham High School's first ever Community Service Club, which has organized student volunteerism in numerous and varied activities, including several food banks, marathons, blood drives, and aid in disaster clean-up. He served for two years as President of that Club. One of his many highlights of volunteerism was as the lead organizer for "Chatham's First Annual St. Baldrick's Event" that raised over $21,000 dollars for children's cancer research. When he is not busy in the classroom or volunteering to help his community, Cole can be found working as a landscaper or playing in the CHS Jazz Band, or on the baseball field. He has been the Captain of a travel baseball team as well as Captain of Chatham High School's Varsity baseball team for the last 3 years. He is currently the president of National Honor Society. Cole will be attending SUNY Geneseo this fall, where he plans to major in Science and English disciplines.

Erica Lazcano

Erica Lazcano will graduate from Taconic Hills High School, ranking number three in the Class of 2012. She is the daughter of Fidel and Rosa Lazcano. A member and vice president of National Honor Society, Erica has consistently been on the High Honor Roll during high school. She has been recognized for French Academic Achievement for four years; and for Excellence in Career and Financial Management during her Junior year. In addition to her challenging academic schedule, Erica has been an active participant in the Taconic Hills pilot program of Applied Research Science during her junior and senior years. Erica currently serves as senior class treasurer and has been her class representative to Student Council since freshman year; and member of the Model United Nations Club. She is also an active participant in the Varsity Soccer, Swimming and Track and Field teams and works as a lifeguard in the Taconic Hills Aquatic Center. Outside of school Erica is a volunteer at the Roeliff Jansen Library and an altar server in Our Lady of Hope Parish, Copake Falls. Her faculty sees Erica as a young lady who loves learning and an outstanding role model for her peers in her school community. In the fall Erica plans to study Business Administration at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Jorge Merlos III

Jorge Merlos III will graduate in the top 10% of the Class of 2012 of Hudson High School. Jorge is the son of Alma Merlos. During his four years of high school Jorge has been a dedicated student and a leader in school activities. A member and secretary of National Honor Society, Jorge has been active in HHS Student Council, Rotary Interact and the yearbook staff. He has been a reporter for the HHS newspaper, The Owl; and this year has served as the student member of the School Climate Committee. He has been on the Track and Field and Cross Country Teams at HHS for four years. Last summer he attended Boys State. A talented singer and actor, Jorge has performed in Hudson High musicals each of his high school years and has also appeared in community productions. He has regularly participated in the HHS Band and Choir, performed as a vocalist at NYSSMA, and has been a member of the All County Choir and All County Band throughout high school. A communicant of Holy Trinity Parish, Jorge is a choir member, altar server and a Columbia County representative to the Albany Diocese Youth Ministry Team. In January he was awarded the Micah 6:8 Award from the Hudson Interfaith Council in recognition of his dedication to serving his parish and his community. Jorge also holds a part time job at Coyote Flaco Mexican Restaurant in Claverack. He will attend Ithaca College in the fall, where he plans to major in Sports Media.

Bethany M. Meyers

is ranked in the top 10% of her class at Chatham High School. She is the daughter of Jay and Cindy Meyers. She has developed her musical interests and talents through her participation and leadership in a variety of musical endeavors. She participated in All County Band year after year and qualified for the All State Band in her Senior year. She has expertise in several instruments; performs with the orchestra, jazz, and marching band; and is a member of two local performing groups. Bethany's other priority is her academic program. She qualified for the Questar New Visions Program, and will be completing fifteen college credits prior to graduation. A consistent High Honor Roll student, Bethany is a member and officer of the National Honor Society and was a member of the Regional Champion Envirothon Team. Her broad interests and high energy are evident from her community service and extracurricular activities. She has been a Student Representative to the Chatham Educational Foundation, Columbia County Dairy Promotion Volunteer, and Teen Ambassador. Bethany has also been active in her school community as Class Officer for four years, and as a member of various committees and clubs. She attended both the Model Congress and Model UN programs for the last three years. During her five years on the CHS Girls Tennis Team, she served as Captain twice. To round out her activities, she has been employed for several years at the Payn Home, and taught tennis through the USTA and the Columbia County Youth Bureau. Bethany will be attending the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, majoring in Biomedical Technology.

Amanda Susan Repko

Amanda Susan Repko is a 2012 graduate of the Questar III Culinary Arts Program and Germantown High School. She is the daughter of John Repko and Donna Withrow. She had the benefit of spending time and building experience at her grandparents' restaurant in Germantown as a younger person, and always dreamed of being a Chef. She intends to pursue a career in Culinary Arts through the Culinary Arts and Management Program at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Amanda has been involved in a variety of activities during her school career, and is known for her organizational and leadership skills. She is currently serving as Student Council President at Germantown High School, and is active there in the SADD Chapter and Friends of Rachel, an anti-Bulling group. She regularly participates in fundraising for the Class of 2012 and Questar III programs / activities. She has been a mentor at Questar III; and is a member of the ProStart Team, which consists of Questar's most talented culinary students. She has been active in community service with the Germantown Sportsmen Association, The Church of the Nazarene, and Hurricane Irene Relief effort in Windham, NY. Amanda has received numerous Certificates of Appreciation for her participation in hospitality and food services at a variety of events sponsored by Columbia Greene Education Center, Questar III, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Aviation Program Reception at Columbia County Airport and others. She is a member of the National Technical Honor Society and has completed her SafeServe Certification.

Sarah Elise Risko

Sarah Elise Risko is the daughter of John and Jodi Risko. She is ranked in the top 10% of her class a New Lebanon High School. She has won honors from the University of Rochester, Russell Sage, and Cornell University, and been recognized by her faculty for her talents. Outside of school, she was chosen as Columbia County School Girl Queen in 2011, People to People Leadership Summit member, and awards at Hartwick College Soccer camp. She intends to study Architecture at the University of Michigan. Sarah is an active parishioner at St. Mary's Church in Nassau. Recently confirmed, she has been teaching religion class to younger children for nearly five years. She identifies this activity as an expression of her passion to help others. Sarah has been a member and active in music competitions for both the Senior Band and the Jazz Band throughout high school; and has participated in Spanish Club since middle school. She has held several offices with the Student Council as well. Active in a variety of sports as a younger student and consistently a Scholar Athlete, she focused on Varsity Soccer, Varsity Swimming, and Varsity Softball during her high school years. She was Captain of the Swimming and Soccer teams. She achieved a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. Her community service is varied; and includes volunteering / visiting at local nursing homes, assisting elderly citizens with holiday activities, and fundraising for a homeless shelter. Sarah's love of swimming is evident in her summer swim team membership, as well as her summer jobs; she teaches swim lessons at the Shatford Youth Park Program; and lifeguards at the Darrow School.

Erin Wadsworth

Erin Wadsworth is the daughter of Douglas and Mary Ellen Wadsworth. She is graduating in the top 5% of her class at Ichabod Crane High School. She has been consistently listed on the High Honor Roll, is a member of the National Honor Society, and won the RIT Computing Medal Award. Erin has always had a strong interest and investment in caring for farm animals, and has been active in 4-H during her high school years. She won the 4-H Master Livestock Show-Person at the 2011 Columbia County Fair. Erin intends to become a Veterinarian; she will be studying Animal Science at SUNY Cobbleskill in the fall. Erin was a member of the ICC Girls Athletic Council and has played on the Varsity Softball Team since 2008. She was selected for the 1st Team All-Star Varsity Softball Team in 2010; she also participated in two travelling softball teams. She has been a member of the Varsity Field Hockey Team since 2009, and was a staff member and mentor at the ICC summer sports camps. Other interests are evident in her participation as a clarinetist for the ICC Concert Band, All-County Band, and NYSSMA, and her contribution as Pit Band Oboist for the production of Beauty and the Beast. Her community volunteer activities have included volunteering for the local Humane Society, and performing community service for the Kinderhook Library. She is employed part time at Fox Hollow Farm.

Reception 2012
The 2012 Awards Reception for Giddings Scholars was very well attended by family members and School District representatives this year.We enjoyed the company of a number of past Giddings Scholars as well; all of them spoke about their endeavors and accomplishments, and their future plans. The personal stories, varied accomplishments, talents, and hard work of all of our Scholars were a testament to their current and future success.
2012 Giddings Scholars *
Scholar Erica Lazcano of Taconic Hills was joined by family members, English teacher Tonya Frickey, and past recipient Josh Piper *
Erin Wadsworth *
Jorge Merlos *
Bethany Meyers *
Consultant P-L Schroeppel (on right) converses with Michelle Bienes, mother of 2012 New Lebanon Scholar Michael Bienes. Ms. Schroeppel is responsible to assist Giddings Scholars to fully utilize their grant monies through her contacts with the student's educational institution.
Austin Fernandez, New Lebanon, accepts his award
Sarah Rizko from New Lebanon, 2012 winner.

Some of the past Giddings Scholars in attendance:

Joe Cozzolino, 2010 Giddings Scholar
Joshua Piper, a 2008 Giddings Scholar from Taconic Hills District
Ryan Nightingale, 2009 Giddings Scholar
Morgan Libruk, 2009 Giddings Scholar

*Photos by Lance Wheeler


RECIPIENTS of 20182017201620152014201320122011201020092000-08