Student photos and information from the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation:
For the first time ever, the Paulo Busti Cultural Foundation has had to cancel its annual Scholarship Dinner and COVID-19 is the reason.
"It is with great sadness, that for the first time in our history, this event will be cancelled," said foundation board President Michele Fuller. "Italian’s are synonymous with family, generosity and love. These students are our family. The Board of Directors wanted to do something special for them during this tumultuous time. We cannot think of a better way of taking care of our young than to award each one with a monetary scholarship.
The students have met all the necessary requirements, according to Scholarship Chair Annette LaBarbera, who has worked diligently to file all their applications.
The six awardees will be featured in the foundation upcoming newsletter, and their accomplishments will be celebrated at their next event.
They are: Kiaya Marie Condidorio, Rhoori Adea Fix, Christopher Gualtieri, Isabella Marie Riner, Megan Elizabeth Smith and Jacob Torcello.
The Gautieri family is also awarding each student with a monetary scholarship. This is given annually, in honor of their late father, Vincent Gautieri, an avid supporter of the foundation, and proud of his Italian heritage.
"We hope the kids take this opportunity to reflect on the hardships, prejudice, poverty and loneliness their ancestors endured when they came to America," Fuller said. "Their sacrifices made it possible for them to live The American Dream. They prevailed and they will, too!”
The Foundation also honors the 2020 Outstanding Italian American at the annual dinner. This year the recipient is Raymond San Fratello, formerly of Genesee County, and currently a resident of Clermont, Fla., who will be recognized at a future date (inset photo, right from his Facebook Page).
"He is an incredible man and we look forward to showcasing his many accomplishments," Fuller said.
Kiaya Marie Condidorio (left), graduating senior from Le Roy Jr./Sr High School, is the daughter of Thomas and Charity Condidorio. Software Engineering will be Kiaya’s major attending Genesee Community College in the Fall.
Responsibility, passion, courage and accountability are the values Kiaya demonstrates with strong Italian roots. Both sets of grandparents arrived to the United States shores from Italy and Sicily.
Kiaya has learned to balance her academics and sports to achieve the Honor Roll consistently. She played soccer, softball, and basketball during her high school years and will continue to play soccer in college. Kiaya said that playing sports helped her realize her strengths and weaknesses, and grew from these challenges. Kiaya was awarded Scholar Athlete in soccer and basketball.
Volunteering at the school sports concession stand, cleaning and organizing at the fire hall, working at the Knights Closet, teaching youth basketball camp, and school peer counselor has helped to be a better leader.
Rhoori Adea Fix (right) is a graduating senior at Batavia High School, daughter of Aaron and Kristen Fix, and is the best version of a kind, hardworking student, whose involvement in school and community has helped her to accomplish her goals.
Rhoori’s goal is to achieve her bachelor of science degree in Nursing with a specialty in Obstetrics -- Labor and Delivery. This demonstrates her desire to apply integrity, leadership and caring to her goal. Rhoori will be attending Genesee Community College in the Fall in Health Studies.
She's a member of the National Honor Society, qualified for the National Art Honor Society, and a Public Relations officer of the National Art Honor Society. Rhoori was the communication liaison between students and teachers on society events and the recipient of the BHS Silver Award.
As an active member of Ascension Parish, she assists in various parish events, assisting as an instructor for the younger students in the Faith Formation classes, student tutor for the district’s Extended Year program, assistant teacher/mentor at Center Stage Dance Company, and a volunteer for Ricky Palermo Foundation.
Rhoori said she feels “caring for others, no matter what, is something that I grew up valuing on a day to day basis."
A 2020 Le Roy JR/Sr High School graduate Christopher Gualtieri (left), son of Michael and Deborah Gualtieri, possesses a strong Italian heritage.
His great-grandparents arrived in the United States from Italy, Sicily and Capri and settled in our community. This has instilled in Christopher the importance of family.
His plan in the Fall is to attend Fredonia College, majoring in Computer Science, with a minor in Athletic Coaching. He will be participating in track.
During his years at Le Roy HS, he participated in indoor / outdoor track team, and cross-country and was the captain on all three teams.
He is a member of the National Junior Honor Society, National Honor Society, Design Club and Mock Trial.
Christopher appreciated the time he volunteered at Our Lady of Mercy Parish as an altar server, student volunteer for Religious Education, Vacation Bible School and fish fry dinners. At summer Camp Stella Maris, Christopher was a leader in training and counselor in training.
“I am a person of strong faith, a community giver, driven and dedicated to achieve my goals,” Christopher said.
Isabella Marie Riner (right), a proud graduating senior from Elba Central School, is the Class of 2020 Valedictorian. The daughter of Michael and Alison Riner, Isabella's ancestors arrived in the United States in the early 20th century, raising their family in Genesee County.
Participating in extracurricular activities was a big part of her high school years. She received a Sportsmanship Award from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association; attended a World Leadership Conference; was a participant in the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadershiop Foundation program and named an Air Force Scholarship Athlete.
Isabella was Class President, Student Council Officer, President of National Honor Society, participated in the Page Turners, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Student Athletic Association, and Masterminds.
Sports was also a part of Isabella’s High School years, participating in Soccer, Basketball and Tennis.
Volunteering contributed to Isabella qualifications, a Bell Ringer for The Salvation Army, waitressed for Byron Presbyterian Turkey Dinner Church, Brayden Day of Play, Christmas Craft Show, Halloween in the Park, Secret Santa, cleanup at the cemetery, and Friends of Strong.
Isabella has been accepted at University of Rochester majoring in Bio-Medical Sciences and Anthropology. Her ultimate goal is Pediatrics.
Isabella states ”I am a strong Italian-American, and I take everything my family worked towards and I will keep it close to my heart."
Batavia High School Class of 2020 senior Megan Elizabeth Smith (left) is the daughter of Jason and Lori Smith and the oldest of three. She's an excellent role model for her siblings.
Megan will be attending Niagara University in the Fall majoring in Education, specializing in teaching English to speakers of other languages.
A member of Resurrection Parish, where she is a kindergarten and first-grade Faith Formation instructor. This opportunity brightens her day, reassuring Megan that the choice of teaching will fulfill her.
Megan's accomplishments include: membership in the National Honor Society; working in Student Government and serving as a Student Representative; and participating in Rochester Youth Broadway Theatre, where she received Tip of the Hat recognition for stage crew exhibits.
She also participated in JV soccer, JV track, and band.
Volunteering is also a part of Megan’s life, she assisted at the John Kennedy Primary School Pasta Night, Applebee's Pancake Breakfast, Meals on Wheels, BHS Stage Crew and Link Crew Leader.
"Without my family, I would not be the person I am today!" Megan said. "Now that is Italian!"
A graduating senior of the 2020 Class of Batavia Senior High School, Jacob Torcello (right), is the son of Jack and Danielle Torcello.
"Being a member of an Italian family encourages everyone to work together to keep it running," Jacob said, and he exemplifies this in his studies, volunteer services and sports.
He's a member of the National Honor Society and participated in indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, summer soccer, BHS soccer and cross-country.
Jake demonstrated his leadership as a team captain for indoor and outdoor track and field.
Jacob has volunteered for Team Literacy Extended Year program, Breakfast with Santa, Z-club, Spring cleanup at St. Joseph Cemetery and at the Bethany Presbyterian Church.
A member of Ascension Parish, Jacob has helped at fundraisers and Bingo.
Jacob said “that his family has taught him to trust and love them and himself and it will help to overcome any problems that comes his way!”
Jacob will be attending SUNY Brockport, majoring in Education.