2022-2023 E.J. Herrmann Scholarships Awarded
The East Utica Optimist Club is pleased to announce the recipients of the Edward J. Herrmann Scholarships for 2022-2023. The organization salutes the three individuals who are the most recent recipients of the E.J. Herrmann Scholarships. All are June 2023 graduates of their respective high schools. The three scholarship winners are superb harriers, accustomed to the rigors and challenges of academia, and have made an impact on their respective schools and communities. All have demonstrated the ability to overcome obstacles through determination, persistence, and intrepidness to attain noteworthy running achievement and academic success.
Bennett Alexander Melita, Fonda-Fultonville Central School
Bennett Melita was the first runner to win an individual Class C Cross Country Championship for his school. He has been running Cross Country since seventh grade, demonstrating that hard work and perseverance will allow anyone to achieve their goals.
His coaches say that Bennett is a fierce competitor, and in his last competition, broke a school record. Not only did he have winning running times, he also had a great impact on his team, setting a high bar for work ethic and building team chemistry. Bennett has been generous with his time—with his team, school events and community fundraisers.
In addition to having an impressive GPA, Bennett also volunteers at his church, the local food bank and as a bell ringer for Salvation Army's Red Kettle drives. He plans on majoring in Construction in college and hopes to continue his volunteerism with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.
Bennett is the son of Stephen and Heather Melita. The family resides in Johnstown, NY.
Bennett's running coaches were Mike Benton and Joe Geniti.
Brandon Gardner, Oneonta High School
Brandon's distance running career began in grade school when he was looking for an alternative to Little League. He started running in fundraiser 5Ks, and then discovered his passion for running. Brandon secured many first place finishes in both Cross Country and Outdoor Track. He led his high school team to their first Class C sectional title since 1991.
Brandon has maintained a 96.48 average, while enrolled in advanced placement courses and earning NYSPHSAA Scholar Athlete awards. He volunteers at many nonprofit fundraisers, including the set and production crew for Orpheus Theater and assisting with building maintenance and upkeep of his church.
Brandon's coach notes that Brandon has impressive work habits in school and on the track. His congenial ways, strong determination and leadership have contributed to a positive environment in his school, teams, and community.
Brandon plans to major in mechanical engineering at SUNY New Paltz.
He is the son of Amy and Jeff Gardner. The family lives in Oneonta, NY.
Dan Forbes and Brady Cotter were Brandon's running coaches.
Emma Charboneau, Fonda-Fultonville Central School
Emma joined the Cross Country team as a freshman, uncertain if she would continue through her first season. She continued practicing, improving with every race, and grew to love running. By her senior year she had won WAC All Star three years in a row, and has been an enthusiastic role model, encouraging and supporting new runners joining the team.
Emma has participated in many fundraising and service activities throughout her high school career. She has volunteered at her church, prepared Thanksgiving meals for people in need, assisted with sports events, and is a member of Key Club, National Honor Society and FFA.
Emma's coach says she has had a positive impact on young student athletes, demonstrating responsibility and commitment to the sport while involved with many activities and earning an Advanced Regents diploma.
Emma is the daughter of Jessica Quackenbush. She resides in Fultonville, NY.
Joseph Geniti and Michael Benton were her. running coaches.
Past E. J. Herrmann Scholarship Winners
Greene, Megan Wakley
Roberts, Anna Marie