Salem Boys and Girls Club honors rising stars
Nicholas Karantonis, 13, (left) smiles after being presented with the Greater Salem Boys & Girls Club's first ever Russell F. Ingram Award during the club's Dinner of the Champions event on Tuesday night. Karantonis is pictured with Ingram, center, and the club's executive director, Michael Centor. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)
During the club's first annual Dinner of the Champions event, sponsored by Peoples United Bank, club members who excelled in various programs over the past school year were presented with certificates of accomplishment and offered words of encouragement from community leaders.
Nicholas "Niko" Karantonis, a local middle school student, was honored with the club's Russell F. Ingram Award for Excellence.
"He's constantly volunteering at our events, especially our Trivia Nights," Centor said.
Karantonis said he joined the Boys & Girls Club at age 6, and was initially hesitant to get involved.
Ingram said it's moments like Tuesday night that make him proud to be a lifelong Salem resident.
Serving as the evening's keynote speaker was Brent Whittaker, assistant principal at Woodbury Middle School.
"All of you are here because you chose to be part of a group that does something special," he told the crowd.
His advice for the dozens of young faces in the room? "You should always be grateful," Whittaker told them. "Be a good person, be someone of good character."
Centor said he's hoping to make the Dinner of the Champions an annual tradition at the club.
"Celebrating our youth and all their accomplishments is my favorite part of my job," he said. "And it's been an amazing year here."
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