Avon Theatre Announces Winners of Annual Avon Scholarship Awards Essay Contest

The Avon Theatre – Deborah & Chuck Royce Cinema Arts Center is pleased to announce the winners of the 15th Annual Avon Scholarship Awards Essay Contest. At an awards reception and ceremony held at the theater on June 6, 2024, Sue Baker, an Avon Board member and chair of the Education Initiative Committee, introduced the winners and presented them with prizes totaling $8,500. Students, their families, and guests were invited to stay afterward for the screening of Disney’s new film, Young Woman and The Sea.

“It has been so exciting to watch this essay contest grow over the past 15 years,” said Baker. “We have had entries from private and public school seniors in Fairfield and Westchester Counties. It is a true scholarship – the money is sent directly to the college or university, not just given to the winners. Some of the most rewarding experiences for me have been the emotional stories of the recipients, who are so grateful. We have had winners who are first-generation Americans, some who are the only person in their family ever to go to college, some for whom this money is a game changer in paying the university bills.”

The program is supported through donations from the Avon's Red Carpet Gala and Annual Appeal campaign. Tamar Bundy and the Wireless Zone Bedford, Hope, and Canal Street stores also provided a $3,500 grant from the Wireless Zone Gives Foundation, which helped to underwrite several scholarship prizes.

The top three winners include First Place—$2,000, Hannah McCall, of Wilton High School, who will study film production at Emerson College. Second Place—$1,500, Sienna Alday, of Stamford High School, who plans to study zoology at the University of New Hampshire. Third Place—$1,000, Genevieve Baske, of Greenwich High School, who will focus on English and the arts at Wesleyan University. 

An additional $4,000 in Honorable Mention prizes went to eight students, each receiving a $500 prize.  The winners are: 

  1. Bianca Benedetti, AITE – Stamford, CT State Community College – Norwalk - digital media and cinematography
  2. Anouska Singh, Trumbull High School, University of Connecticut – economics and film studies
  3. Molly Fitzgerald, Stamford High School, Emerson College - writing, literature, and publishing
  4. Miles DeSantis, AITE – Stamford, New York University - Tisch School of the Arts -  sound design and drama
  5. Logan Jozwiak, Greenwich High School, State University of New York at Buffalo - political science, history, and law
  6. Alena Simonova, Stamford High School, Hunter College (CUNY) – nursing
  7. Zachary Price, Westhill High School, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill – business and real estate finance
  8. Wendy Aguirre, Stamford High School, Iona University - psychology

Students were asked to submit a 500-750-word essay on “Film Matters” based on a film they have seen in a movie theater or online released in 2023 or 2024. The film could be a feature, animated, documentary, short, or foreign language film. Students were invited to share how the film impacted them personally, and the questions they answered included: Did the film change their mind about something? Did the film make you feel seen or accepted? Did the film inspire you?

The winning entries covered a wide range of movies, including Barbie, Red, White & Royal Blue, Nimona, Laapataa Ladies, Past Lives, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, The Iron Claw, Civil War, and Elemental. Participants did not need to be film majors to enter the contest. However, two of the winners will be attending college this fall to focus on film production and drama.

The essays were read without the student’s name or school affiliation by at least two independent judges from a panel of professional journalists, published authors, editors, educators, and filmmakers. An additional pair of judges read the top three finalists, as there was a tie. This year's competition was fierce, with the top three winners’ final scores being neck-and-neck with a perfect 50, 49.7, and 49. Several judges commented they thought the quality of writing was the best ever, with students describing profoundly moving and emotional reactions to the films. The judges included Sue Baker, Heather Bianco, Kelly Bridges, Mimi Cohen, Louisa Greene, Camilla Herrera, Beth Levine, Arlene Mark, Mary Gayle Meyer, Joe Meyers, and Donna Moffly.

For more information about the Avon, including upcoming screenings, membership opportunities, and special events, please visit avontheatre.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 


Submitted by Stamford, CT

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