Education

Somers Teen Musician Awarded Scholarship by Yorktown's Veatch Fund

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Grace Dashnaw
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YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Seven graduating seniors from six high schools will be honored later this month when The Justin Veatch Fund presents each of them with a $1,000 music scholarship.

The award comes with a personally inscribed metronome, which has become synonymous with the honor. The 2017 recipients are Cooper Aquilino of Mahopac, Grace Dashnaw of Somers, Emily Fareed of Hendrick Hudson, Ellen Gruber of Hendrick Hudson, Trevor Legeret of Newtown, Conn., Gabrielle Sansone of Lakeland and Victoria Vespucci of Yorktown.

The awards program will be open to the public and held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, at John C. Hart Memorial Library in Shrub Oak. Yorktown Town Justice Sal Lagonia, a Fox News aviation consultant and a musician himself, will be the keynote speaker.

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Dashnaw is graduating from Somers High School and plans to major in music at Ithaca College in the fall. She is a cellist who also plays piano, sings and composes. Her private cello teacher says she has the capabilities of a much older musician. Dashnaw says she sees herself playing all genres of music—in the pit for a Broadway musical, playing in a symphony orchestra or even studio work or touring with a chamber group.

The Justin Veatch Fund honors the legacy of Yorktown High School senior Justin Veatch, who died from an accidental drug overdose in 2008. Veatch’s story is told in schools in hopes of preventing other such tragedies. He was a gifted musician whose original music has been recorded by other artists and enjoyed by a worldwide audience. The June awards bring the total of scholarships awarded in his honor to 29.

“We originally began with awards to Yorktown High School students only,” said Jeffrey Veatch, Justin’s father who is president of the fund. “But this year we had applicants from 11 area high schools and the choice of recipients was very competitive.”

The Justin Veatch Fund is a nonprofit corporation and recognized New York State charity. In addition to scholarships, the fund creates music opportunities for teens.

Jeffrey Veatch has presented the multi-media talk, “A Message from Justin,” to more than 30,000 students with the goal that Justin’s story will inspire them to take better care of themselves and watch out for their friends when it comes to drugs and other substances.

Justin’s story is also told in the independent documentary film, “Whispering Spirits,” which has been recommended by The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) and sent to its 80 affiliates in 29 states.

Information in this article was provided by The Justin Veatch Fund.

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