Huntington High School seniors Charlie Ehrman, Alyssa Fox and Alexandra Smith will be presented with Otto Kahn Awards by Friends of OHEKA during the group’s garden party June 14 at the legendary Gold Coast estate in Cold Spring Hills.
The three teenagers have repeatedly distinguished themselves, with Mr. Ehrman shining as one of America’s top high school filmmakers, Ms. Fox sparkling as an exceptional young photographer and Ms. Smith excelling as a sensational ballerina. Each of the teenagers will be receiving a $3,000 scholarship award during the Great Gatsby-styled affair at OHEKA.
Otto Kahn completed OHEKA in 1919. It is constructed of steel-reinforced concrete. Following Mr. Kahn’s death in 1934, the mansion changed ownership several times and became dilapidated. Gary Melius purchased the estate in 1984 and began restoring the once magnificent structure and extravagant gardens to their original splendor.
Formed in 1996, Friends of OHEKA’s mission is to “protect, preserve and raise public awareness” of the castle and its grounds. The group sponsors educational programs along with its annual themed garden party. The organization began the awards program in 2003 and since then it has presented tens of thousands of dollars of scholarships to high school musicians, artists, photographers, dancers and singers.
Mr. Ehrman said the key to his success has been his ability to find his passion and commit to it. He has produced numerous exquisite short films that have been recognized nationally and been accepted into a long list of international festivals. He has captured numerous awards in competitions.
Mr. Ehrman has also somehow found the time to wrestle and play lacrosse and participate in Natural Helpers and Habitat for Humanity. The senior plans to study film and television production in college.
“It is truly an honor to have been selected as a Friends of Oheka scholarship winner,” Mr. Ehrman said. “This scholarship will help me financially to pursue my creative endeavors while studying film production at California State University at Northridge. I am looking forward to receiving the award at OHEKA Castle along with the other passionate artists who won.”
Ms. Fox is one of Long Island’s top high school photographers. She has breezed through a series of Huntington High School photography courses, including Introduction to Photography (darkroom), Advanced Photography (digital) and Advanced Placement 2D Photography.
The teenager became interested in photography as a youngster, becoming fascinated with Kodak disposable cameras. Ms. Fox got her first digital camera when she was 10 years old. While she loves all types of photography, she is especially drawn to images of macro nature photography, portraits and images of the body. She plans to study photography and journalism at Nassau Community College.
“I feel so honored to win the Friends of OHEKA scholarship,” Ms. Fox said. “It was an overwhelming surprise and I am utterly grateful. It means the world to know my talent is appreciated.”
Known for always giving her best effort to anything she does, Ms. Smith’s quiet confidence and determination helps her believe that regardless of where the path she’s on leads to, “it will work out.”
Ms. Smith has split her day between Huntington High School and pre-professional ballet training at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre in Manhattan.
The senior has participated in Natural Helpers, Key Club, Interact Club and five different academic honor societies, including serving as treasurer of the French Honor Society.
The gifted Huntington teenager plans to study ballet and biology (pre-physician assistant) at the University of Oklahoma.
“It’s an honor to receive this award and to stand side by side with an inspiring group of local young artists,” Ms. Smith said. “I am so grateful to the Friends of OHEKA for generously supporting me in the pursuit of my passion.”