Dyker Heights

Fort Hamilton grad wins scholarship from Ronald McDonald House

Giacoma Bonello will use money to studying acting at NYU

August 14, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Ronald McDonald may have helped launched the career of a future Broadway star.

Giacoma Bonello, a Fort Hamilton High School graduate who will enter the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at New York University to study acting in the fall, is getting a big boost in paying for college thanks to the four-year scholarship she received from Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“I think it’s fantastic and I’m very grateful,” Giacoma, 18, told the Brooklyn Eagle in a phone interview Thursday morning. “College is very expensive and this scholarship will help me tremendously.”

Bonello, who graduated from Fort Hamilton in June, was among four scholarship winners from the tri-state area who were lauded at a Ronald McDonald House Charities luncheon that was held recently. She lives in Dyker Heights.

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The McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain, which uses Ronald McDonald as its mascot, operates Ronald McDonald House, a program that helps families of cancer patients. Ronald McDonald House also has a charity component.

A spokesman for Ronald McDonald House Charities said scholarship winners are selected by a committee which judges applicants on the basis of academics, their level of community involvement and their SAT scores. “Giacomo was one of the highest applicants,” the spokesman said.

Bonello has spent years doing volunteer work in her neighborhood. She spent two summers in high school as a counselor at a camp run by the Neighborhood Improvement Association (NIA), teaching kids how to sew. A parishioner of the Basilica of Regina Pacis, she works in the church’s Religious Education Office performing administrative tasks. “We have over 200 students in the Religious Education program. They need to be accounted for,” she said, explaining her desire to work on the administrative side of the program. “It’s something I want to continue doing.”

At Fort Hamilton, Giacoma served as was president of the Drama Club, where she performed in shows like “Hairspray,” “Gypsy,” “Doubt” and “Merchant of Venice.” The school “has a very, very good Drama Department. It’s like a semi-professional theater,” she said.

She twice represented Fort Hamilton at the National Student Shakespeare Competition, a performance contest sponsored by the English-Speaking Union of the United States.

But the Drama Club wasn’t just about taking a bow onstage. Bonello and her fellow club members also worked hard behind the scenes, organizing events like “Halloween Movie Night,” in which students attended screenings of films like “Beetlejuice” dressed like the characters in the movie.

Bonello was active in student government at Fort Hamilton and was a member of the school’s leadership program. Student leaders volunteered to help direct parents around the school on parent-teacher conference nights. “Fort Hamilton is a big building and people often get lost. We gave them directions,” she said. The leadership program students also handed out report cards and cleared litter from the stands after school football games.

Bonello, who attended PS 204 and Dyker Heights Intermediate School prior to Fort Hamilton, caught the show business bug early. “I started dancing when I was three-years-old,” she said. “I was first introduced to the theater at Dyker. I loved it.”

In a few weeks, she will enter the Tisch School of the Arts, a revered program at NYU whose graduates include Billy Crystal, Martin Scorcese, Marcia Gay Harden, Billy Crudup, Debra Messing and Elizabeth Olsen. “I’m excited. I was also very surprised that I was accepted. So many people apply and only a few make it. The acceptance rate is three percent,” she said. “I did the best audition I could and just hoped for the best.”

Bonello is eager to study acting “and just see where it takes me,” she said. In addition to theater, she also plans to major in marketing.

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