Six graduating seniors from local high schools will be awarded 2018 Justin Veatch Fund music scholarships in June. This year’s recipients are Chloe Collins of Calvert Academy, Justin Giacchetto of North Salem High School, Justin Hahn of Peekskill High School, Noah Mattison of Harrison High School, Alicia McMillan of The Ursuline School, and Chris Paraggio of Carmel High School.
The $1,000 awards along with personally inscribed metronomes will be presented at an awards program at 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 6, at John C. Hart Memorial Library in Shrub Oak. Singer/songwriter Sloan Wainwright will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will be open to the public.
The scholarships honor the legacy of Justin Veatch, a Yorktown High School senior who died from an accidental drug overdose in 2008. The 2018 awards bring the number of scholarships awarded by the fund to 35 since it began the prize in 2009.
“We started out with one scholarship to a Yorktown High School graduate,” said Jeffrey Veatch, Justin’s father and president of the fund. “This year, we had 26 applicants from 17 area high schools. These are highly talented and focused young people and picking just six was a difficult task. We hope to find individual sponsors for some of the awards so we can expand their number in 2019.”
Chloe Collins, graduating from Calvert Academy, plans to attend Belmont University in Nashville to further her songwriting skills. She also plans to take advantage of the Nashville music scene to perform her material. Collins says she was born to write.
“I have spent many days in high school with a songbook on my left and a textbook on my right,” Collins said. “I believe the act of creating something from a blank sheet of paper is the closest I will ever get to making magic.”
Writing is only half of the equation for Collins, who is also a dedicated musician who loves to perform and has volunteered her time and talent for many charitable events.
Justin Giacchetto, graduating from North Salem High School, plans to attend the University of Miami Frost School of Music. Giacchetto’s musical abilities have become well-known for his lead guitar performances for the Westchester band, Gilbert, which won first place in the Ridgefield Bandjam Competition twice and performed on the main stage at the Pleasantville Music Festival. But, Giacchetto is also versatile in his music styles performing on different instruments in the North Salem High School and All Westchester Jazz Bands. Giacchetto’s self-stated goal is to fuse different genres of music to create new sounds.
Justin Hahn, graduating from Peekskill High School, plans to study music and sound recording at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. For Hahn, music has been an outgrowth of his upbringing, following in his father’s footsteps performing on the trombone. Hahn has played lead trombone for the Westchester Youth All Stars, Daisy Jopling’s “Awakening” Orchestra and the Westchester Honors Youth Ensemble. He also has played an integral role in Peekskill High School’s City Singers a cappella ensemble.
Noahn Mattison, graduating from Harrison High School, plans to attend Purchase College. Mattison’s focus is jazz performance on the trumpet. Since 2017, he has been a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Combo Band and has won the Essentially Ellington Regional Festival solo award three years in a row.
“I am really grateful to be chosen to receive this scholarship,” Mattison said. “I want my music to be meaningful and something that will help people, just like the [Justin Veatch] Fund.”
As a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center youth program, Mattison has regularly toured with mentors like Kenny Rampton and Wynton Marsalis.
Alicia McMillan, graduating from the Ursuline School, plans to pursue either a songwriting degree from Berklee School of Music or a studio composition degree from Purchase College. McMillan is a singer/songwriter who performs on piano and guitar and has many original recordings to her credit. She is also the first Justin Veatch Fund Scholarship recipient to be mentored by a previous recipient: Melissa Frabotta, who was the fund’s second scholarship winner in 2011.
Christopher Paraggio, graduating from Carmel High School, plans to attend New York University’s School of the Arts Clive Davis Institute. Paraggio is a classically trained cellist occupying first chair in the Carmel High School Orchestra, but says his primary focus now is creating, recording and performing original alternative/experimental rock music. Paraggio lists a number of instruments that he plays, including piano, electric bass, drums, mandolin and even theremin. He is also developing first-hand experience in business, having helped to create and grow an online company that specializes in anti-chafe swimwear for boys and men.
“I am honored to have been selected for the Justin Veatch Fund Scholarship,” Paraggio saod. “It is truly a privilege to participate in Justin’s legacy in this way.”
Justin Veatch was a talented musician and singer/songwriter whose original recordings along with covers were released by Polyvinyl Records in 2010. The music has been streamed in more than 30 countries. The documentary film, “Whispering Spirits,” tells the story of Justin’s death and how the Veatch family has dealt with the loss. The multimedia talk, “A Message from Justin,” delivered by Jeffrey Veatch, is designed to inspire young people to take better care of themselves, to avoid the perils of substance abuse, and watch out for their friends.