By Jill Fox
At the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Awards ceremony, Tony Montalto spoke to the class of 2021 about his daughter, Gina Rose Montalto, who should be remembered as a gentle, caring, and beautiful soul taken far too soon.
“Going forward, I implore all of you to occasionally take a few moments to remember the good times and smiles that you shared with our beautiful Gina and the other victims,” he said.
Established in memory of Gina, a victim of the school’s mass shooting on February 14, 2018, The Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation awarded three scholarships in her name, including the most valuable award yet.
Caroline Kendall was awarded the four-year Class of 2021 Legacy University Scholarship, funded by the Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation and the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Foundation.
Kendall, who will study finance at Florida State University, is in the National Honor Society and the MSD student government leadership program and a volunteer with Parkland Buddy Sports.
According to Tony, Gina was a straight-A student who always took great pride in her education and looked for ways to help others.
“We believe the Class of 2021 Legacy Scholarship winner will bring Gina’s smiles, leadership, kindness, and compassion to all her future endeavors,” he said.
The foundation also awarded two $5,000 Resilience Awards.
Eden Samara, who plans to study psychology, is the school yearbook editor and an AP Scholar with distinction. She was also named Chabad of Parkland Volunteer of the Year.
Christine Yared, who will study political science, was a National Merit Finalist and received first place for her International Business Plan at the Florida DECA competition. She also helped organize Gina’s art exposition at the Parkland Library.
Both will attend George Washington University in the fall.
Tony said, “We were so impressed with their participation in our foundation’s projects and the other ways they have chosen to remember their classmate, that we decided to create an additional Resilience Award to help these two young women achieve their goals and keep Gina’s light shining.”
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.
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