Each high school student was awarded $1,500. Since the Maspeth Kiwanis Club began giving scholarships in 1955, they have handed out over $400,000 to deserving local students.
This year’s students came from Maspeth High School, St. John's Prep, Townsend Harris High School, Martin Luther High School, McClancy High School and Grover Cleveland High School.
Len Masone said the scholarship is a chance to recognize the students’ achievements.
“It’s all based strictly on marks, so there is no subjectivity,” Masone said. “They’re smart kids and it’s a really nice thing to do because the $1,500 comes in handy when they’re in school.”
Alvin Zhu is a Middle Village student who attends Stuyvesant High School. While he’s not sure what he’ll be studying in college, he is considering computer science while also looking into world history and business. Zhu will start at MIT in the fall.
“It’s been my dream to go MIT,” Zhu said. “Having the scholarship means that I could focus a little more on my education rather than its price tag, and there’s a little bit of luxury where I can explore more than just computer science.”
Maspeth High student Andrew Giakoumis also viewed the scholarship as a way to broaden his horizon in the future.
“It means that once I’m done with my stay at Queens College, I’ll definitely pursue graduate school and continue on to the career I want,” said Giakoumis, who brought his mother, Pandora Spelios, to celebrate his achievement and her birthday. “After living in Maspeth my whole life, I can bring a piece of where I began to where I am.”
Throughout his time in high school, Giakoumis developed a passion for the environment and became involved with the community through several projects.
He has painted over graffiti and picked up litter with the school’s Green Club. He also worked with other students to come up with different initiatives to reduce electricity and water intake.
At Maspeth Federal Savings, Giakoumis helped collect old appliances and participated in paper shredding events and the tree giveaways.
When he attends Queens College in the fall, he’ll be studying to become an English high school teacher.
For Madison Daniels of Maspeth High School, the chance to be recognized for their volunteer work has made them appreciative.
“The scholarship is all about hard work and I love to volunteer,” Daniels said. “I’ve done 100 hours of community service. It’s like a drug.”
Masone said the students are among a few who can say they accomplished a lot in high school.
“When you succeed and excel at something, people do notice,” Masone said. “Even if you’re up studying late at night and you don’t think it’s worthwhile, people are watching and we notice when you succeed.”