Students to get a jump-start on their future


The Per Sempre Lodge no. 2344 will celebrate seven outstanding students and encourage them on their journey toward the realizing  their full potential.

The Lynbrook-based Lodge will host its annual scholarship night on June 18 at the St. Mary/Maris Stella Knights of Columbus Hall. During the evening ceremony, seven students, who are related to lodge members, will be receiving scholarships from the Per Sempre Lodge, but they will also be receiving scholarships from the Order Sons and Daughters Of Italy Grand Lodge of New York.

This is the fourth year the lodge hosted this event since the men and women’s lodges merged in 2021. Each individual lodge hosted its own scholarship night prior to 2021, but now the annual event is bigger, celebrating more students in the community.

“Our young people from our lodge are getting state awards as well,” Rosemarie Stathes, president of Per Sempre Lodge no. 2344, said. “It’s a wonderful thing and we’re very proud of our kids from our lodge whether it be our grandchildren or our children.”

The requirements for students to receive the scholarships are that the student must be a child or grandchild of one of the lodge members and have accomplished substantial academic achievements. One of the awards is the Michael J. Florio Memorial award, which is $1,000 and is given to the student with the top grades. Another award is called the Anthony J. Mendola Memorial Scholarship Award, which is $1,000 and given to the student with the second highest academic achievements.

Joseph Fontanetta will receive the Michael J. Florio Memorial Scholarship. Fontanetta, the son of Per Sempre Lodge Sister Donna Fontanetta, is graduating from Garden City High School and his fascination with how things work led him to build a 3-D computer at the age of 15.

Fontanetta volunteers coaching soccer for special needs children and plans to attend Purdue University to pursue a career in engineering.

Jeremy Lauletta will receive the Anthony Mendola Memorial Scholarship. Lauletta, the grandson of Per Lodge Brother and Sister Jerome and Joyce Tusa, is graduating from Floral Park Memorial High School.

Lauletta has a passion for business and plays soccer and lacrosse. He has raised money for Afghan refugees and volunteers with disabled children. He plans to attend Hofstra University to pursue a career in business.

Stathes said that the money raised for these scholarship funds came from fundraising at lodge events. She said that there are different fundraisers at each meeting, such as a 50/50 raffle where half the money goes to the winner and the other half goes to the scholarship fund. Also, lodge members make donations to the funds.

Depending on the number of applicants each year determines the amount of money given to the students. Stathes said it is too early to say how much money the Per Sempre Lodge will be giving to the recipients, but she said the lodge has been fortunate that fundraising has been successful.

“We look at their grades, their community involvement, their extracurricular activities, and we have them write an essay on what their Italian culture means to them and what their future goals are,” Stathes said.

Stathes mentioned that the group of 17- and 18-year-olds have a diverse range of what their academic goals are and what they want to achieve in the future. She said that all the students currently volunteer with different organizations like special education groups.

The recipients of the Per Sempre no. 2344 Scholarships are Talia Cutolo, Francesca Mastrangelo, Rocco Vaglica, and Benedetto Zito. Luciano DiSalvio will be receiving the Special Achievement Award in honor of Kathleen Florio.

“Recognizing the students’ hard work and achievements, I think, just does so much to boost their confidence in going from high school to the bigger world of college,” Stathes said.

Stathes said that she was a recipient of a nursing scholarship and noted it gave her the confidence to do more within her community. Due to this, she hopes to do the same with future students in the community and empower them at this upcoming ceremony.