BATAVIA — The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation this morning announced the cancellation of this year’s scholarship dinner, but wants to honor the six scholarship candidates: Kiaya Marie Condidorio, Rhorri Adea Fix, Christopher Gualtieri, Isabella Marie Riner, Megan Smith and Jacob Torcello.
Foundation President Michele Fuller said the dinner has been canceled, for the first time in its history, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Italians 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,” Fuller said. “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.
“Annette LaBarberra, our scholarship chair, has continued to work diligently to file all their applications. They will be featured in our newsletter and we will celebrate their accomplishments at our next event,” Fuller said. “The Gautieri family will also award each of them a monetary scholarship. This is given annually, in honor of their late father, Vincent Gautieri. He was an avid supporter of our organization and proud of his Italian heritage.”
Fuller said she hopes the six candidates take this opportunity to reflect on the hardships, prejudice, poverty and loneliness their ancestors endured when they came to America. Their ancestors’ sacrifices made it possible for the students to live the American Dream, Fuller said.
The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation also honors the 2020 Outstanding Italian American at the dinner. The recipient, Raymond SanFrantello, will be recognized at a future date.
“He is an incredible man and we look forward to showcasing his many accomplishments,” Fuller said.
A graduating senior from Le Roy Jr./Sr. High School, daughter of Thomas and Charity Condidorio, software engineering will be Kiaya’s major while 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 playing sports helped her realize her strengths and weaknesses, and grew from these challenges. She was awarded Scholar Athlete in soccer and basketball.
Volunteering at the school sports concessions 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, she said.
A graduating senior at Batavia High School, daughter of Aaron and Kristen Fix, Rhorri is the best version of a kind, hardworking student, whose involvement in school and community has helped her to accomplish her goals.
Rhorri’s goal to achieve her bachelor of science in nursing, with a specialty in labor and delivery. She demonstrates her desire to apply integrity, leadership and caring to her goal. Rhorri will be attending Genesee Community College in the fall in health studies.
A member of the National Honor Society who qualified for the National Art Honor Society and is public relations officer of the National Art Honor Society. Rhorri was the communication liaison between students and teachers on society events and the recipient of the BHS Silver Award.
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 the Ricky Palermo Foundation.
“Caring for others, no matter what, is something that I grew up valuing on a day-to-day basis,” said Rhorri.
A 2020 Le Roy Jr./Sr. High School graduate, Christopher Gualtieri, 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 high school years at Le Roy High School, he participated in indoor and outdoor track, and cross country, and was the captain on all three teams.
He was 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 Camp Stella Maris, Christopher was a leader in training and counselor in training during his summers.
“I am a person of strong faith, a community giver driven and dedicated to achieve my goals,” Christopher said.
Isabella Marie Riner, a proud graduating senior from Elba Central School, is the 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 SSA Sportsmanship Award, attended World Leadership Conference, was a HOBY participant and US Airforce Scholarship Athlete.
Isabella was class president, Student Council officer, president of the 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. She participated in soccer, basketball and tennis.
Volunteering contributed to Isabella’s qualifications. She was a bell ringer for The Salvation Army, waitressed for Byron Presbyterian Church’s turkey dinner and was involved with 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 the University of Rochester, majoring in biomedical sciences and anthropology. Her ultimate goal is pediatrics.
I am a strong Italian-American and I take everything my family worked towards and I will keep it close to my heart,” Isabella said.
Batavia High School 2020 senior Megan Elizabeth Smith, daughter of Jason and Lori Smith, is the oldest of three and an excellent role model for her siblings. She will be attending Niagara University in the fall, majoring in education and specializing in teaching English to those who speak other languages.
A member of Resurrection Parish, where she is a kindergarten, first-grade Faith Formation instructor. This opportunity brightens her day, reassuring Megan that the choice of teaching will fulfill her.
A member of the National Honor Society and Student Government and a student representative, she is also a member of Rochester Youth Broadway Theatre, Tip of the Hat recognition for stage crew exhibits Megan’s accomplishments. She also participated in junior varsity soccer, junior varsity track and band.
Volunteering is also a part of Megan’s life. She assisted at the JK 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.
A graduating senior of the Class of 2020 at Batavia High School, Jacob Torcello is the son of Jack and Danielle Torcello. Jacob, a member of the National Honor Society, said, “Being a member of an Italian family encourages everyone to work together to keep it running.” Jacob has exemplified this in his studies, volunteer services and sport.
Jacob 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’s Cemetery and at the Bethany Presbyterian Church. A member of Ascension Parish, Jacob has helped at fundraisers and Bingo.
Jacob says his family has taught him to trust and love it and himself, and it will help to overcome any problems that comes his way.
Jacob will be attending SUNY Brockport, majoring in education.