To get things started, NRHS TheatreWorks students performed show tunes while wandering among the attendees. The students receiving the awards drew applause from the assembled guests with their humor, gratitude and news of their future plans.
"You can see what phenomenal students we have here," NRHS Interim Principal Joseph Starvaggi said as he introduced the awardees.
Students honored were chosen by the District for the following awards:
* Antonio Corona received the Arts and Culture Award. He noted the irony of changing his life goal from nursing to theater, considering he had a little trouble in an early acting role.
"Who would have thought that the Romeo who couldn't kiss his Juliet in ninth grade would choose this career path?" he said.
* Kamahri Valcourt received the David A. Garfinkel Citizenship Award. Among the people he thanked were his mother and grandmother, who were in attendance.
"They've been the best support system I ever could have asked for," he said, then addressed them directly: "I love you."
* Jordan Forrest received the Eric Tutera Sports Leadership Award. Among those he thanked were Coach Lou DiRienzo - "Coach D" - and his parents.
"They taught me the values of love, honor, duty, courage and respect," he said of his parents.
* Rachel Griffith received the Technology Award. She thanked the New Rochelle Fund for its support of programs such as the robotics team.
"As a member of the team, I have learned to design and build robots," she said, adding that she plans to study engineering in college.
The community leaders honored were: New Rochelle City Manager Charles B. Strome III; Rev. Dr. David R. Holder and Tarshia L. Holder, Founder and Co-Founder of the New York Covenant Church; and Haina Just-Michael, president and founder of Just Media Group. Inc., who is involved in multiple volunteer activities.
"We are so thrilled to shine a spotlight on these four exceptional NRHS students, while also honoring long-standing, valued leaders of our New Rochelle community," said Fund Executive Director Sabrina Toback. "The Gala is a night where we show how vital and integrated the Fund is to our beloved city. We couldn't be more proud."
Photo: (From left) New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence Executive Director Sabrina Toback, New Rochelle High School Interim Principal Joseph Starvaggi, students Rachel Griffith, Antonio Corona, Jordan Forrest, Kamahri Valcourt, Fund co-chairs Jonathan Stark and Matthew Costa.