A happy teenager with a great sense of humor, Christie Baade has a light-hearted way about her, but she can be a hardnosed competitor, too. The Huntington High School senior shares these qualities with Justin Giani, who possessed each of them in abundance.
While the two never met they are now forever linked after Ms. Baade was presented with this year’s Justin Louis Giani Memorial Scholarship at last Wednesday’s senior academic awards night in the high school auditorium. The award carries a stipend of $4,000, allotted in the amount of $1,000 annually in each of four years of college.
Huntington High School senior Christie Baade.
The scholarship honors a young man who will always be known for his genial nature, loyalty to family and friends and competitive spirit. 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 NCAA Division I 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 wrestled for Harborfields as an eighth grader.)
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 created to help perpetuate Mr. Giani’s legacy and memory at his alma mater. Dan Mollitor (Binghamton University) was the inaugural recipient of the Giani scholarship when it was presented for the first time in June 2016. Nick Lanzisero (Binghamton University) garnered the 2017 award. Luke Eidle (Rutgers University) won last year’s scholarship.
Ms. Baade is very close to her sisters, Brooke and Abby and her parents, Kathleen and Chris. She’s a personable young woman who likes to laugh. She doesn’t take anything too seriously, including herself.
“I feel very honored that I was chosen to receive the Justin Giani Memorial Scholarship Award, mostly because I will have the privilege of helping to perpetuate the memory of a bright and hardworking student-athlete,” Ms. Baade said. “Although I did not know him personally, it is evident that he was a very appreciated person in the Huntington community. I plan to follow in his footsteps and make an impact on the people around me just like he did.”
Ms. Baade played on the Blue Devil varsity tennis and basketball teams. She was All-League in tennis and garnered Academic All-County honors in basketball. The teenager is known for playing hard and for being a great teammate.
Mr. Giani’s parents, Linda and Joseph were on hand for last week’s scholarship presentation. Huntington social studies teacher James Graber, who enjoyed a friendly relationship with Mr. Giani, spoke to those gathered in the auditorium about the 2007 alum, who will always be remembered as one of the kindest and most lovable souls to ever attend the school. “Justin was a fine young man,” Mr. Graber said. “He just getting started when his life was tragically cut short.”
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.”
The Justin Louis Giani Memorial Scholarship is one of the most prized awards presented annually to Huntington’s top seniors.