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Class of ’24 awards night sees $142,000 in local scholarships

Class of ’24 awards night sees $142,000 in local scholarships

In opening Poughkeepsie High School’s annual Awards and Scholarships Celebration, Joseph Mazzetti had a message for the assembled senior scholars:

“You have the capacity to effect change,” the 12th-grade assistant principal said. “Dare to think big, dream big and accomplish great things, even if they seem small at first.”

He also had a message for the family, friends and staff who had likewise come to the school’s auditorium Monday to honor them:

“When you applaud for our scholars this evening,” he said, “please applaud loud and hard.”

Poughkeepsie’s Class of 2024 made that an easy task. Through the course of the evening, more than $142,000 in local scholarship awards were announced, which will go to offsetting college expenses. In all, more than 50 students were honored, including 33 who came on stage as Honor Graduates – those who will complete school with a grade-point average of 90 or above – nearly 40 who received scholarships, and others receiving academic and service awards.

“It’s a way to represent the hard work I’ve been doing,” senior Maritza Juarez said, noting her parents were able to “see how hard I’ve actually worked in school and how far I want to reach in life.”

Ten students left the ceremony having earned three or more scholarships, which ranged from one-time awards of several hundred dollars to $4,000 to be paid over the course of a four-year college experience. While some were created specifically for Poughkeepsie students, such as 12 Board of Education scholarships, most were established by area businesses, organizations and private entities, many of which considered students from outside the district.

“This event is a testament to the outstanding contributions made by our students to our school community,” Mazzetti said.

Most of the scholarships were highly competitive. In announcing the two winners of this year’s Corey G. Ingram Memorial Scholarships – an honor created in the memory of a 2006 Poughkeepsie graduate who died while serving in the U.S. Navy in 2017 – his uncle, Dr. Ted Ingram, noted approximately 70 students applied. The scholarships went to Jahshawne Dyer and Maelia Vasquez. The meaning of the awards resonated for both. Dyer noted he appreciated all the work the family has done in the community. Vasquez said she thinks about Ingram often, as she drives past Corey Ingram Circle each day.

“It’s such a nice feeling to know that even if you’re not here, you’re always in somebody’s heart,” she said.

There were 21 $1,000 scholarships awarded through a combination of $15,000 donated by Hudson Valley Credit Union to the Poughkeepsie Public Schools Foundation, and donations from the foundation itself and the PHS Class of 1958 Scholarship Fund. That $21,000 total was up from $5,000 in 2023.

Poughkeepsie’s top students were among those winning their share of the honors. Valedictorian Oliva Groucher and Salutatorian Abass Na-Aata were given the Pioneer Excellence Scholarships; Groucher’s honors also included a prestigious Mid-Hudson Valley Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Scholarship, and Na-Aata, Elijah Poole-Davis and Peter Sealy Jr. earned Beyond The Dream Foundation Scholarships awarded through the Poughkeepsie Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Na-Aata earned eight scholarships, while Poole-Davis and Sealy each took home four.

“It’s the end of high school for me,” said Sealy, who also won a Poughkeepsie Leaders of the Future Scholarship after serving as the student liaison to the Board of Education. “The night represents how hard I worked and what I did in high school. These awards are just showing my accomplishments.”