2023 Scholarship Recipient Helena Gernhardt.
The scholarship was launched in 2019 in celebration of the Kate’s 10th anniversary. It is inspired by Miss Hepburn’s independent and spirited approach to life, her zeal for acting, and varied interests. One of the main criteria is how the arts have positively impacted a student’s life or how he or she may have contributed to their community through the arts.

In its first three years, the scholarship was funded by a small, dedicated group of individuals. In two of those three years, the applicants were so strong and the need so evident that the Kate’s Education Committee pooled resources to be able to fund two awards. With secure future funding, we will increase the award from a $1,000 scholarship to $4,000; have the ability to award more than one scholarship in those unique years; and, over time, broaden eligibility to other towns.

Donations of all sizes will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000!

Please contact the Development Department with questions at (860) 510-0473 x213.

Meet the Recipients

Unique in their own ways, each recipient (and all of the applicants) were equally impressive, making the selection process very difficult. We are certain these young leaders will do amazing things!


Helena Gernhardt, a recent graduate of Choate Rosemary Hall, began violin lessons at the age of four. Soon after, she was part of the cast in one of the Kate’s Missoula Children’s Theatre musicals. Realizing that music was her true calling, she played flute in the Old Saybrook Middle School Band. In 2016 she was introduced to the bassoon and was awestruck by this large woodwind instrument, playing it through middle and high school, eventually becoming Principal Bassoonist in the Choate Symphony Orchestra. Helena has performed at the CT Music Educators’ Association (CMEA) Music Festival and was selected for the CMEA Southern Regional Honor Band and the New England Honor Band. She also performed in the CMEA All-State Honor Orchestra in 2022.

Helena says of her love for the arts, “Whether at community concerts, regional conferences, or international competitions, I have come to value the way the arts become a binding force that brings a group of people with unique backgrounds and identities together. I thank Old Saybrook for giving me the tools to develop my love of music and the arts, and I look forward to continuing them in college.”

Helena also has a keen interest in politics and public service. She was accepted into Choate’s John F. Kennedy ’35 Program in Government and Public Service and was a Yale Young Global Scholar. Helena will be attending Georgetown University in the fall, studying international relations.


Michael Morant began his theater career in an arts education program at the Kate where he was cast as a firefly. His love for dramatic and musical theater led to roles in school productions, including a virtual production of “War of the Worlds.” He’s written poetry and plays, including a semi-autobiographical play about a young person on the autism spectrum growing up in today’s world. Michael attends Dean College, majoring in business management, with plans to participate in the College’s robust musical theater program.

Matthew Johnson made his theatrical debut in 6th grade but quickly realized he enjoyed working behind the scenes rather than on stage. He developed his skills in digital music production, photography, and video production and recently directed live stream events for Old Saybrook High School during the pandemic. In 2022, he produced and directed a short documentary film, “Pain is Temporary,” which won “Best Short Film” and “Best Cinematography” at the Quiet Corner Film Festival. Matthew attends the University of Connecticut as a digital media and design major.


Davonté Mitchell knew music would be a big part of his life during his elementary years and considers retired Goodwin Elementary School music teacher Lois Geer a key inspiration. A music education major at Western Connecticut University, he realized his dream of teaching a bit early when he had the opportunity to substitute teach at Goodwin in 2021! He is active in WestConn musical productions, most recently in Cinderella, and as former co-captain of the Old Saybrook-Westbrook Rams football team continues to follow his favorite sports teams.


Maggie Maselli has been dancing since the age of 2, studying ballet, jazz, tap, and modern dance. Her talent has been shared as she choreographed three school musical productions. She attends Hamilton College and is double majoring in physics and dance. In addition to being president of the Ballet Club, she plays horn in orchestra and the brass ensemble, has performed in several dance concerts and is Student Assistant Director with responsibility for recruiting and managing fellow student orientation leaders.

Timothy Thomas has been drawn to music and the arts since he was just a toddler, literally trying to play his older siblings’ violins! It was in elementary school that he realized his true love was singing. Timothy attends Cairn University as a music education major and achieved Dean’s List his freshman and sophomore years. He is a dedicated choir member performing with his peers at school and on the road with choral trips again.

The Kate is generously sponsored by:

  • Pasta Vita
  • Saybrook Point Resort & Marina
  • Sennheiser