PMHS 2018 grads honored at awards ceremony; Leon-Kelly receives Arnold M. Albero Memorial Patriotism Award


Charlotte Howard

Anais Leon-Kelly, winner of the Arnold M. Alberto Patriotism Award, plans to attend the United States Military Academy in July.

By Jack Howard and Charlotte Howard

In the seventh grade, Anais Leon-Kelly had dreams far different from her peers. Six years later, her dream of attending the prestigious West Point Military Academy will be realized.

Leon-Kelly receiving the Arnold M. Albero Memorial Patriotism Award.

“I’m happy and excited to serve our country,” said Leon-Kelly. In a few short weeks, the Pelham Memorial High School senior will report to West Point for military training.

At the annual Senior Awards Ceremony last night, Leon-Kelly was honored with the coveted Arnold M. Albero Memorial Patriotism Award.

In memory of Arnold M. Albero, a former Pelham Memorial High School graduate and World War II veteran, the award was created to honor a student who not only demonstrates an appreciation for the freedoms Americans share, but also understands the price individuals pay for these freedoms.

“I think tonight is a testament to everyone’s hard work,” said Leon-Kelly. “I really have faith that we’re going to go out and change the world.”

The awards night honored the service, academic and arts achievements of the graduating class of 2018. Local scholarships were awarded for academic and musical excellence. The Rotary Club recognized one prominent student for outstanding academic achievements. The $10,000 scholarship was awarded to senior William Shelton.

The Anthony Senerchia Memorial Services Award was presented to Henry Morjikian and Nicholas Milanese, both of whom demonstrated strong community service by helping the next generation of Pelham students. The award honors Anthony Senerchia, who passed away in November after a long battle with ALS. Senerchia was revered as a Samaritan figure in Pelham.

Left to Right: William Shelton and Nick Wessman. Shelton and Wessman both received prestigious awards.

The National School Choral Award honored Michael Ruggiero and Melissa Altschiller for their outstanding dedication and musical achievement. Ruggiero and Altschiller sang in both the concert and chamber choruses at PMHS. Altschiller established the “Acapelicans,” which is a first-year a cappella club at PMHS. Ruggiero performs in a band, has produced a variety of iTunes singles and will continue his musical career at Berkley College of Music next fall.

“I think tonight kind of proved that” the future is bright for Pelham’s seniors, said Leon-Kelly. “Even if you don’t think that you’re one of the smart kids, put yourself out there, work your hardest, and just trust your gut.”