Eli Mollineaux was a special teenager so it’s only fitting that three exceptional Huntington High School teenagers are the first recipients of a scholarship presented in his memory.
Mr. Mollineaux passed away late last October after a lifelong battle against Pearson’s Syndrome, a rare disease triggered by a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA. The sophomore was just 15 years old.
The young man’s passing struck at the heart of the school community. In the aftermath of his loss, Mr. Mollineaux’s family and Ilene Messina, a teacher aide in the district who worked with him for many years created the bELIeve Project, which sponsored the new scholarship.
Allyson Arleo, Charles Ehrman and Nicholas Lanzisero were presented with $500 scholarships and special plaques that were made from wood that technology teacher Brian Reynolds salvaged from the original 1957 high school gymnasium bleachers that were removed during a renovation. Art teacher Ayallah Jeddah, Mrs. Mollineaux and Mrs. Messina designed the plaques, which were planed, sanded and engraved by a laser. Four coats of polyurethane put a gloss on them.
Huntington's Eli Mollineaux
will always be remembered
“They say that people come into our lives for a reason,” Mrs. Messina said. “That was certainly true about Eli Mollineaux. Eli was an inspiration to everyone he met. He was kind, compassionate, always smiling and lived every moment of his life to the fullest. Whether he was telling a joke, sharing his passion for art, giving a hug or hi-fiving his friends, Eli spent his time bringing joy to everyone who knew him.”
The three scholarships were presented earlier this month during the high school’s senior academic awards ceremony in the auditorium. A crowd of about 250 attended.
“I miss him more and more each and every day and I’m sure many of you feel the same way,” Mrs. Messina said. “However, out of something so tragic has come something so positive. We are honoring exceptional Huntington High School seniors who live their lives like Eli; bringing kindness, joy and compassion to others every single day,” Mrs. Messina said.
Ms. Arleo is headed to LaSalle University in Philadelphia in the fall. She plans to pursue an academic major in counseling/social work with a minor in management and leadership. The senior hopes to return to Huntington and work as a guidance counselor or social worker.
“Winning this scholarship is one of my biggest high school accomplishments,” Ms. Arleo said. “Eli Mollineaux gave me a whole new perspective on life and he will forever be with me. His passion for art, his smile, character, charm and mindset to always believe has showed me there’s no reason to think of the negatives in life. I was lucky enough to have met Eli. Along with his family and Mrs. Messina, he will always have a piece of my heart. Thank you to the Mollineaux’s for giving Charlie, Nick and I the opportunity to get to know Eli and the chance to be honored in his name. No matter how far I go from Huntington, I will always remember to bELIeve.”
One of the country’s top high school age filmmakers, Mr. Ehrman will be attending California State University at Northridge to study film and television production. The recipient of numerous film awards and academic honors, the teenager is a shining star in the school community.
“Receiving the Eli scholarship was an honor and definitely an emotional experience,” Mr. Ehrman said. “When I first met Eli, I felt a connection through our mutual passions for art. To be recognized as ‘living like Eli’ means to approach the world with a smile and positivity; which is something I will carry on to the west coast with me.”
Mr. Lanzisero plans to attend Binghamton University and study engineering and business. One of the top athletes in the Class of 2017, he also played an integral role on the high school’s robotics team that advanced to the world championships in St. Louis.
“Knowing Eli Mollineaux was an incredible gift all by itself,” Mr. Lanzisero said. “Not only am I extremely grateful for knowing Eli, but I am very humbled to receive a memorial scholarship in his honor. Eli was truly an inspiration to us all and I promise to continue spreading his optimistic view of life throughout everything I do.”
The Huntington School District will always remember Mr. Mollineaux. He had special “presence” regardless of where he was and was a very recognizable figure in the community.
“Eli absolutely loved this school,” Ellen Mollineaux said. “He loved learning and he loved art, but most of all he loved being with his friends, Ilene and the amazing staff at school. The Huntington school community embraced Eli with support, love and compassion. This love and compassion has now been extended to his family as we navigate life without Eli. Therefore, it only seems fitting that we continue to honor Eli’s memory with a scholarship that rewards compassion, learning and community to Huntington High School seniors.”
As the three seniors gathered with Mrs. Mollineaux and Mrs. Messina for a commemorative photo on the auditorium stage, the crowd applauded as much for the recipients as for Eli Mollineaux.
“It is my honor to present the first Eli Mollineaux Memorial Scholarship to three extremely deserving students,” Mrs. Mollineaux said. “The comments and recommendations from staff and peers would not only make a parent proud, but gives us all hope for the future. These students continue to live life like Eli and will forever hold a very special place in our hearts.”