National Society Of Arts & Letters Honors Scholarship Recipients, Donors At Awards Reception In Boca Raton


By: Dale King Contributing Writer

The National Society of Arts & Letters, Florida East Coast Chapter, recently held its Star Maker Awards at Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club in Boca Raton. The event showcased many of the organization’s scholarship recipients and honored supporters who fund this nonprofit organization.

“It was truly dazzling,” said event chair Kim Champion. “We were thrilled to award scholarships to college and advanced degree students in multiple categories including woodwinds, strings, visual arts, piano and theatre. This prestigious recognition is a coveted achievement, and the funds will help our winners advance their studies and careers.”

Past and present scholarship recipients from Lynn Conservatory of Music and the Florida Atlantic University School of Music entertained guests with performances of classical tunes and Broadway favorites. These young artists included Kayla Williams, Kristine Mezines, Trevor Mansell, Darren Matias, Yasa Poletaeva, Cameron Hewes, Feruza Dadabaeva, Mara Valmonte, Joey De La Rua, Natalie Hidalgo and Nikki Khabbazvahed.

The event also honored the achievements of local high school photography students who competed at NSAL’s recent third annual juried event, made possible by the Donald M. and Sylvia Robinson Family Foundation and Dr. and Mrs. Alexandre Lane.

“All of the dedicated young artists that we honored at The Star Maker Awards have committed themselves to excellence,” said Judi Asselta, Florida East Coast Chapter president.

“While we admire their talent, it is their ceaseless determination to perfect their skills that leaves us all in awe,” she added. “We were all mesmerized by their performances and feel a great sense of pride in knowing that we have had a role in nurturing their success.”

During the event, NSAL also honored two people for providing inspiration to the organization. Shari Upbin received the Past President’s Award and musician Marshall Turkin was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

During the entertainment segment, Kayla Williams and Kristine Mezines performed “Romanze for Viola and Piano.”  Darren Matias play “Homage to Scott Joplin” on the piano, a piece composed by fellow student Trevor Mansell.  Matias also accompanied singer Yasa Poletraeva on two songs from “Porgy & Bess” – “Summertime” and “I got plenty of Nothin.’”

Cameron Hewes and Feruza Dadabaeva joined for a sonata for clarinet and piano. Theater Arts graduate Tony de Le Rua performed “Send in the Clowns” and “If I were a Rich Man.”

The 2018 scholarships and competitions were made possible by the support of key donors, including Marilyn Giancola, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Mandich, Isabelle Paul, Hildegard Scherzberg, Virginia Satterfield, Mr. and Mrs. Jay Nelson, Dr. and Mrs. Barry Levin and Barbara Fisher.

NSAL aims to discover talented young people at the beginning of their careers and provides scholarships and competitions in art, dance, drama, literature, music and musical theatre and other works to advance their careers and creative opportunities.

Excelling at the chapter level allows competitors to progress to national competitions where many stars have been discovered.

For information about NSAL, visit