Among its more famous of local programs, the Rotary Club of the Pelhams resumed its scholars of the month program on January 27. The program honors students who display excellence primarily academically, but also in ventures outside of school as well. The practice of honoring scholars monthly started in the early 2000s and generally spotlights two students. However, because program had been put on hold due to COVID, four students, all seniors, were honored this time around: Nya Hasley, Matthew Cannella, Dan D’Adamo, and Sophia Leung.
Nya Hasley is a member of the math, social studies (Rho Kappa), English, Tri-M Music, and National Honor societies, as well as the vice-president of the Science National Honor Society. Halsey has also been recognized by the College Board as part of the Hispanic Recognition Program and the African American Recognition Program. One of Hasley’s favorite things to do outside of academics is participating in the Acapelicans, a student acapella group. Hasley, as the co-director, cites it as being almost a sort of family. Halsey is also a winger for the PMHS Girl’s Varsity Soccer team, as well as a passionate member of PMHS’s Science Research program, hoping to continue her applications of research in the future.
“I’m very grateful to be selected as a Scholar of the Month. It’s definitely an honor to be given some recognition for my hard work through high school, which of course, could not have been possible without the constant support from my family and friends,” Halsey said.
Matthew Cannella has been a high honor roll write-in every quarter of his high school career as well as a member of the science, social studies, English, and National Honor societies. He has also been the president of the Math National Honor Society since his senior year. Cannella is a star center fielder for the PMHS varsity baseball team and a self-proclaimed Mets superfan. In his free time Cannella tutors 7 different students, sometimes tutoring up to 5 students on the same day. Matthew says that a lot of his passion for tutoring derives from wanting to reduce the academic stress that a lot of students place on themselves, the effect of which has been amplified during the pandemic.
“I am very honored to receive this reward, and it is great to be recognized, but I know none of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication of my teachers each and every day,” said Cannella.
Dan D’Adamo likes to spend a lot of his free time pursuing artistic endeavors. A lot of his art revolves around creating attire, armor, and other costumes. D’Adamo has built replicas of famous costumes such as those from Star Wars, The Avengers, and Game of Thrones among others. D’Adamo sees art as a way to engage not just in a community but with oneself and hopes to pursue art in the future.
“I felt really honored when I heard I was made Rotary Scholar of the Month… The pomp and circumstance of a community organization like the Rotary were unfamiliar to me, but it goes without saying that it feels really great to have your hard work recognized,” said D’Adamo.
Sophia Leung is a member of the math, science, English, social studies, Chinese, and National Honor societies. She was also named a Hugh O’Brian Leadership Ambassador and has received a number of awards including the Harvard-Radcliffe of Westchester Award and the Philip J. Colicchio Award. Leung is also the PMHS student class president and an involved athlete as a rower and the captain of the crew team. Leung also recently organized the Pelham Equity book drive, whose goal was to donate books to elementary school libraries in Pelham that would increase the diversity of cultures and ideas found in children’s books.
“I was so excited to be named scholar of the month! I honestly hadn’t expected it but it was really satisfying to be recognized for putting in a lot of work that I didn’t know anyone had necessarily been noticing, and the Rotary supports such important projects in the community so it was really great to be honored by them,” Leung said.
Principal Mark Berkowitz was also in attendance at the meeting and introduced each of the students, as well as some of their accomplishments. Berkowitz expressed his sense of gratitude for both the Rotary for continuing the Scholars of the Month program, and for the excellence displayed by the four students.
“On behalf of the PMHS Community, I am grateful that the Rotary Club of the Pelhams has created the occasion to honor our students’ scholarship and service. I look forward to continuing the partnership between our PMHS students and the Rotary Club of the Pelhams,” Berkowitz said.
Members of the Rotary Club expressed their gratitude for the resumption of this program, one of the many ways in which the club gives back to its community.
Club treasurer Donna Shirreffs said, “The Scholars of the Month Rotary meeting was always a favorite for me. I enjoy meeting and speaking with these exceptional, well-rounded students who have accomplished so much and plan to build on these achievements after high school. They are an inspiration to us all! So happy to finally get to meet this year’s Scholars and our new Principal, Mr. Berkowitz!”
The club hopes to continue in this tradition in the coming months, with all commemorative meetings being held online for the time being.