Admissions Announces New Award for Local High School Students


A new award administered by MCLA's Office of Admission recognizes outstanding Berkshire County high school juniors who have excelled both academically and civically.

According to Joshua Mendel, associate director of Admissions, "The MCLA Book Award honors students who have made a positive difference in our community. We wanted to make sure that the local students were supported by MCLA, not only with financial aid scholarships, but with some public recognition, as well. These students are doing great things as they give back to the Berkshires and work hard in school.

"We're here to support our local students," he added.

This year, six Berkshire County high school students received the MCLA Book Award at their school's awards night.

The honorees included Makenna Arnold of McCann Technical School, Alexis Bedini of Drury High School, Gladys Garcia of Pittsfield High School, Rosemarie Mele of Mt. Greylock Regional High School, Sienna Powers of Taconic High School and Hannah Stansfield of Hoosac Valley High School.

The award consists of a $500 tuition scholarship - good for the fall 2014 term if they are accepted to and decide to attend MCLA - as well as an award certificate and a book written by an MCLA faculty member.

This year's book, Exploring Nirvana: The Art of Jessica Park, by Dr. Anthony Gengarelly, is about Jessica Park, an internationally renowned artist with autism who lives and works in Williamstown, Mass. Park is best known for her depiction of architectural subjects using a rainbow palette of colors. 

"I am pleased 'Exploring Nirvana' is part of this important effort to honor and recognize the achievements of exceptional high school students," Gengarelly said. "I hope the recipients of this award will find the book an inspiration as to what can happen here at MCLA when students and faculty and experts in a field of learning collaborate on a project."

The book was created under Gengarelly's direction as the result of several arts management courses at MCLA that focused on the artist and her work. Twenty-six individual entries about Park's paintings were written by students.

The award recipients were selected at the recommendation of their high school guidance counselors and at the agreement of their school's principal and the district's superintendent. To qualify for the award, students must have an overall grade point average of a B or higher, display strong lead­ership qualities, and positively contribute to the school and local community.

Garcia said she was "really happy and excited" to receive the award because it demonstrates to her that she can achieve her goals if she works hard and continues to be a good student.

The awards were presented to the students by a member of the MCLA Admissions staff.

"Your time with Gladys represents a moment of recognition and pride for her," said Marietta Rapetti Cawse, school counselor at Pittsfield High School. "I appreciate your outreach."