Nick Lanzisero displays many of the same qualities that endeared Justin Giani to students and staff alike during his time at Huntington High School. They were both among the best Blue Devil athletes of their era and each of them compiled an enviable academic record. They both showed an impressive competitive streak and each of them enjoyed a good laugh, even when it came at their own expense.
An outstanding student, Mr. Giani compiled a 95 academic grade average, graduating near the top of Huntington’s Class of 2007. He went on to earn an undergraduate degree at Drexel University in Philadelphia where he majored in finance and competed on the wrestling team.
Mr. Giani won varsity letters with the Blue Devil cross country and wrestling squads. He earned a record of 118-32 in five years of varsity wrestling, the last four as a Blue Devil. (He competed for Harborfields as an eighth grader.)
Huntington High School senior Nick Lanzisero
As a senior, Mr. Giani went 25-7 on the mat and won the Suffolk League V title. As a junior, he finished with a 28-6 mark and was league runner-up. At the time of his graduation, he was 10th on the all-time Huntington career victory list with 101 wins.
The Huntington alum was killed on March 28, 2015 while crossing US Highway 501 in South Carolina during a golf vacation with his friends. He was 25 years old. His death was devastating to his family as well as his former classmates, teammates, teachers and coaches.
A scholarship fund was quickly organized to help perpetuate Mr. Giani’s legacy and memory at his alma mater. Dan Mollitor was the inaugural recipient of the Giani scholarship when it was presented last June for the first time. Mr. Mollitor recently completed his freshman year at Binghamton University, where he shined in every possible way.
Named a Distinguished Senior earlier this spring, Mr. Lanzisero will graduate this month with the Class of 2017 following a great four year run. The teenager was presented with this year’s Justin Louis Giani Memorial Scholarship at Wednesday evening’s senior academic awards night in the high school auditorium. The award carries a stipend of $1,000.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the Giani family for giving me this opportunity and generous contribution to my education,” Mr. Lanzisero said. “I’m honored to exemplify the extraordinary traits that Justin Giani possessed.” The senior is headed to Binghamton University in the fall.
Mr. Giani’s parents, Linda and Joseph were on hand for this week’s scholarship presentation. Huntington social studies teacher James Graber, who enjoyed an easygoing relationship with Mr. Giani, spoke to those gathered in the auditorium about the 2007 alum, who will always be remembered as one of the most gentle, kind and personable young men to ever attend the school. “Justin was only just getting started when his life was tragically cut short,” Mr. Graber said.
Mr. Giani interned at Philadelphia based film distributor Breaking Glass Pictures before being hired full-time by the company and helping to develop its “financial architecture” and helping steer it toward acquisitions as it went about building its brand.
“Justin was more than an employee; he was a master of numbers, a ball of energy, an even-keeled ray of light that brought smiles to all he crossed paths with, no matter the situation,” the company said in a statement following the Huntington alum’s passing. “As we mourn the loss of a member of the Breaking Glass Pictures family and team, we more importantly celebrate the life of one of the world’s true gifts. Justin was always so full of life and happiness and we will always remember him that way.”
Mr. Lanzisero said the key to his success “has been the support system made up of various teachers, coaches and friends” that he has grown close to while growing up in Huntington. Captain of the Blue Devil football team, president of Young Leaders youth development organization and a key drive team member of the high school robotics team that reached the world championships in St. Louis, the teenager is a “can do” kind of guy.
The Justin Louis Giani Memorial Scholarship has quickly taken its rightful place among the most coveted awards presented to Huntington’s top seniors.