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Scholarships Boost White Plains Art Students

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Holly Petre was presented with the $4,000 Ronald J. Topping Memorial Scholarship, one of six scholarships funded through the June 2011 White Plains Outdoor Arts Festival, and presented in the City Hall Rotunda on Tuesday afternoon.

Petre, 18, was one of six White Plains High School seniors selected for scholarships totaling $13,500, based on their art class portfolios. All six art students work in various mediums and plan to pursue art in college, said Kristine Holden, president of the White Plains Outdoor Art Festival.

"Based on their skill and artistic expression and promise as future artists, we award them a one-time scholarship," Holden said.

The other scholarship recipients were Robert Gold and Victoria Stangarone for $3,000, Mae Berglas for $1,500, and Sara Espinoza and Anna Socolof for $1,000.

Like Petre, Stangarone only began taking art classes a few years ago. The Manhattanville College-bound senior plans to continue studying digital media and graphic design. Mae Berglas, 18, plans to go to Virginia Commonwealth University and study sculpting and painting.

"It's an honor," Berglas said of receiving her scholarship. "Being an artist can be really tough, but knowing people like the work you've done is good reinforcement."

Sara Espinoza, 17, will be heading to Hunter College as a double major in political science and photography.

The award Petre received was named for Ronald J. Topping, a 35-year White Plains schools art teacher and past president of the arts festival, who passed away earlier this year. Topping had the idea to use the proceeds of the festival, in its 50th year, to benefit college-bound high school seniors in White Plains, Holden said.

His wife, Olga, presented the award to Petre, who plans to major in painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the fall.

She said she hopes to restore paintings when she graduates, to ensure future generations will glean the same inspiration she has found in artwork like Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night." Petre's paintings are expressionist like Van Gogh, she said, while her drawings are more realistic.

"It's a great reinforcement, considering I'm going into the arts," Petre said.

The 50th Annual White Plains Outdoor Arts Festival, an all-volunteer event, will be held June 2 and June 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in Tibbits Park. Admission is free.

For more information about the White Plains Outdoor Arts Festival, call 866-210-7137 or visit their website .

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