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2019Giddings Foundation
Scholarship Recipients

The Board of the Alice and Murray Giddings Foundation has selected nine graduates of public high schools in Columbia County as Giddings Foundation Scholars for 2019. Each recipient received a $5000 scholarship applicable to his or her post-secondary certificate or college degree program. The 2019 Giddings Scholarship recipients, along with their families and school representatives, were honored at a luncheon reception at the Winding Brook Country Club on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Recipients of the 2019 Giddings Scholarships, listed here, have all demonstrated leadership, community service, and high academic standing during their high school years.

Althea Brennan

Althea Brennan is a 2019 graduate of Chatham High School. She is the daughter of Dana Rosenstreich and Keith Brennan of Ghent New York. At Chatham High School, Althea participated in Model Congress and student government. Althea was a delegate to the American International College of Model Congress. She was editor of the school newspaper Veritas and served as a Student tutor in the Academic Resource Center. She has taken advantage of multiple avenues of experience and activities and has received a number of honors. She was a student representative on the Chatham School Board. As a participant in the fall festival and young company of Shakespeare & Company, she creatively analyzed, interpreted and performed in Shakespeare plays. In the community, Althea was involved in 2018 political campaigns for the CD 19 congressional seat: first as a Fellow for Gareth Rhodes and then an intern with Antonio Delgado. She also served as an intern for the New York Civil Liberties Union in Albany. Althea volunteered at the Appalachian Mountain Club White Mountains in New Hampshire where she collaborated with peers to build and maintain historic trails affected by adverse weather conditions. Althea has an active and passionate interest in government and public policy. She will attend Cornell University to study Industrial and Labor Relations. Althea hopes to go on to work in labor advocacy, and has a passion for women's issues.

Keegan Carson

Keegan Carson is a 2019 graduate of New Lebanon High School. He is the son of Scott and Kristen Carson of New Lebanon. During his high school career, Keagan was on the Club Soccer and Varsity Soccer team for four years, and served as Varsity Captain the last two years. He took the General Dynamics Engineering Challenge in 9th and 12th grades. A National Honor Society member, Keagan also participated in Student Council. He served as Treasurer as a junior and President as a senior. He received a number of honors, awards and achievements, including the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award. He was a Carson Scholar Award Nominee, Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Convention Delegate, the Iron Scholar Award, and was recognized for academic excellence in all core courses. Keagan was involved in the 4-H program throughout high school. He was Club President and competed every year in 4-H Dairy Bowl; he was a member of the New York State National Championship Team in 2017. He has been employed part-time as a prep cook and dishwasher at the local Blueberry Hill Market Cafe. He plans to major in Mechanical Engineering at Northeastern University.

Kenneth Fay

Kenneth Fay, the son of Mary and Brian Fay of Chatham New York, is a graduate of the 2019 class of Chatham High School. He had a number of notable achievements while attending Chatham High. He served as President of the Choir, President of the Improv Club; and Vice President of the National Honor Society, the Tri-M Music Honor Society, and Class of 2019. He served as Treasurer for two organizations: Student Government and the Fall Festival of Shakespeare. As a member of the Choir and the Orchestra, he was the section leader of tenor and percussion sections. Kenneth also served as a 4-H Teen Ambassador; and participated in FIRST Robotics, Gender Equality Club, and Model Congress. He was a member of Varsity Tennis and Cross-Country teams. His awards included the 2018 Rensselaer Medal, Red Cross Section II Tennis Champion, and AIC Model Congress Spirit Award. He was a member of All State Choir, All County Band and All County Jazz Choir. He was scholar-athlete all athletic seasons. Kenneth achieved the rank of Assistant Senior Patrol Leader and earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America Troop 2114. He spent approximately 200 hours planning weekly meetings and community events, assisting younger Scouts in leadership and advancement, and training new Scout leaders. His Eagle Scout project involved the creation of two giant outdoor chess sets located on the grounds of his Town Park, Crellin Park. This required 255 man-hours of organization and labor. His other community work included his service as Student Representative to the Chatham Educational Foundation and participation in the Christian Leadership Institute. Kenneth has a Brown Belt, and volunteered as an instructor of Uechi Ryu Karate to students ranging from ages 5 to 65. He was employed summers since 2016 as a senior lifeguard and camp counselor at the Crellin Summer Day Camp. Kenneth plans to major in Mechanical Engineering at Villanova University.

Byonte Jones

Byonte Jones, daughter of Eli Jones and Ctaci Killela of Hudson, is in the top 10% of the 2019 class of Hudson High School. She is a National Honor Society member, served on the Student Council, and was Secretary of the Class of 2019. Active in sports, Byonte participated in the Varsity Track and JV Basketball teams and served as captain of the Varsity Soccer team and Varsity Swim Team. Byonte was a member of the Environmental Club, the Multicultural Club, SADD, Poetry Club, and Yearbook Club. She contributed to the HHS student newspaper, The Owl during her junior year, and was a peer mentor at the Writing Center. Byonte's community activities include volunteer work with children and adults with developmental disabilities who are served by United Cerebral Palsy and Whispering Pine Farms in Massachusetts, and work at the High School Concession Stand for the past two years. Byonte was employed as a Lifeguard at the HHS pool and at Oakdale Park in Hudson, as a Counselor in Training at the Day in the Arts program, and at a local restaurant during her senior year. Some of her awards include the University at Albany Multicultural High School Achievers Award, the Center for Vascular Awareness V-Healthy Scholarship, and the Hudson High School PBIS Award in 2018. Byonte will attend Wells College to pursue a degree in Biology.

Caleb Miller

Caleb Miller, son of Leonard and Jessica Miller of Philmont, NY, is a 2019 graduate of Taconic Hills High School. Caleb is Valedictorian of his class, and a member of the National Honor Society. Caleb was a member of the Taconic Hills Football team since 2109, and served as Varsity Co-Captain; he was also a member of the Cross Country Team for 2014 through 2018. He was named a Student Scholar Athlete, and won the Rensselaer Medal Award for Mathematics and Science, the Overall Scholar Athlete Award from the National Football Foundation Capital District Chapter, and the Presidential Scholar Award. Caleb was a member of the Key Club, serving as a volunteer in various service projects in his community. These included volunteer work stocking and distributing food at the Philmont Food Pantry and organizing books for the Philmont Library Book Sale. Over the last six years, he has spent an average of two hours a week walking, monitoring, maintaining and clearing trails for the Village of Philmont Nature Trail. During his last two years at Taconic Hills, Caleb worked through an internship with the Director of Facilities at the district; he had the opportunity to work side-by-side with engineers, architects, and the district's maintenance crew to learn creative problem solving and basic operations of the school facilities. Caleb will pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Western New England College.

Cherish O'Connell

Cherish O'Connell, daughter of Charity O'Connell of East Chatham, is a 2019 graduate of Chatham High School and Questar III, where she participated in the Questar Culinary Arts program. She was on Honors or High Honors throughout high school, and earned Student of the Quarter for Physical Education, Spanish and Science. She participated in the Youth Leadership Summit and Shakespeare and Company in 10th grade. As a member of the Cheerleading Team for football and basketball at CHS she earned the Teammate Award. Cherish participated in a variety of culinary events through Questar. She regularly volunteered for events at Questar, including Questar Board events and the annual Veterans' Day Luncheons in 2018 and 2019 at Questar III Columbia-Greene County Educational Center. She has participated in two ProStart competitions, served as the President of ProStart in Culinary Arts III, and was a member of the SkillsUSA Club. She earned her ServSafe Certification. Cherish was employed part time at a local restaurant and supermarket. She will pursue a degree in Biology at Siena College.

Sara Ramos

Sara Ramos is the daughter of Mildre Ramos of Hudson NY. She was born in Venezuela. Sara is a graduate of the 2019 Class of Ichabod Crane High School and the Questar III Certified Nursing Assistant program. Sara was on the honor roll or the high honor roll all four years of high school; she is literate in English and Spanish. Sara was a member of the Sala Latina / International Student Organization since ninth grade, serving as Treasurer, Representative-At-Large, and President of that organization. Her membership and leadership in that organization led to her participation in fundraising, inclusion activities for entering students, and translation services at Open House, parent meetings, Literacy Nights and Fiestas held at ICC. Through the SALA Latina/ISO Club, Sara has helped organize the yearly Teacher Appreciation Day, as well as celebrations for Dia de los Muertos and Huerta / Chavez / Itliong Day. Sara was also a member of the Spanish Club, and participated in the Migrant Educational Arts Program for her last three years of high school. As part of her involvement there, Sara regularly provided translation services for child and adult participants. She participated in Puerto Rican Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute; one of that organization's goals is to develop leadership skills in Latino / Hispanic youth. Sara contributed to the student anthology, Inheritances, writing about the difficult conditions that currently exist in her native country. Sara was certified as a Sunday School Teacher; she attended the St. Joseph's Children's Liturgy of the Word Ministry for the last three years. Sara achieved a Certificate of Completion from the Citizen Preparedness Corps. She will pursue a degree in Nursing at Hudson Valley Community College.

Ahsraful Shamrat

Ahsraful Shamrat, son of Murshid Alam and Habiba Kumkum, is the 2019 Salutatorian of Hudson High School. He is a member of National Honor Society, and participated in a wide range of school activities at HHS. These included FIRST Robotics competitions and service as President of that club as a senior. A member and officer of the Environmental Club, he also participated in Envirothon competitions every year. He contributed to Mock Trial and Student Council for three years, serving as Secretary of the Student Council as a senior. Ashraful was Lead Editor of the school newspaper, The Owl. He was a member of the Math Club for two years and played on the JV/Varsity Soccer teams throughout his high school years. His community activities included volunteer work at the Salvation Army dinners and Holiday Bell Ringing, the Providence Hall Holiday Dinners, and the Second Show community thrift store. Ashraful was a Youth in Action for Operation Unite from 2016 to 2019, working at community festivals and fundraisers in Hudson; and an Usher at Hudson Hall (Cultural Arts Performance Center). Some of his awards include the University at Albany Multicultural High School Achievers Award and the Rensselaer Medal in 2018; and the Micah 6:8 Student Award for leadership and commitment to the greater religious community in 2019. He will attend SUNY Stony Brook to pursue a bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering.

John Somma

John Somma, son of John and Angela Somma of Hudson, NY, is a graduate of the 2019 Class of Germantown Central High School. John was Class President since 2013. He participated in Student Council as a senior, and was a member of SADD and served as Vice President as a senior. A member of the school's International Club, John was in the student exchange program to China in 2017, after he and his family hosted a Chinese Exchange Student in 2016. He participated in the Prom Committee as a junior, and the Yearbook Committer as a senior. John was a member of the Germantown School Education Funding Board and the Germantown Friends of the Arts. John helped reestablish the Germantown cross-country team last year, encouraging enough student participation that the school was able to have both modified and varsity teams. He has played on several teams during his middle and high school years, including the soccer, basketball and volleyball teams. Outside of school, John gave guitar lessons and performed in community concerts at Wells Manor, a senior citizen housing development. He worked seasonally at Hope Dale Farms and Palatine Manor; did landscaping work, and worked in 2018 for Somma Construction. John plans to attend SUNY Adirondack to pursue a degree in Business Administration.

Awards Reception


Many more pictures will be added soon!

RECIPIENTS of 2020201920182017201620152014201320122011201020092000-08