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On the Town: Caruso Family Foundation awards pair of scholarships

Hailey Sole, 18, center, will receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Americana at Brand. It is presented to her by, from left, by owner-developer Rick Caruso, Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, Americana General Manager Jimmy Little, and staffer Alea Chin.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

For 10 years, the Caruso Family Foundation has been awarding $20,000 in scholarship funds to local, high school students.

This year, Spirit of American youth scholarships went to Hailey Sole from Maranatha High School and Madeleine Ackley, formerly of Notre Dame High School.

Both are Glendale residents, and each will receive a $10,000 scholarship.

After lunch with the students and their parents at Trattoria Amici in the Americana at Brand on Sept. 16, Americana developer Rick Caruso and Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian awarded the scholarships during a brief ceremony.


Sole was accompanied by her mother, Donna. She has just started her freshman year at the University of Southern California where she is a business administration major.

“USC was my dream school forever,” she said.

Ackley was not present at the ceremony. She is a freshman at Berklee College of Music in Boston and specializes in piano studies.

Her parents, Casey and Jonathan Ackley, accepted the scholarship on their daughter’s behalf. The scholarship winner’s mother said her daughter has wanted to go to Berklee since she was 11 years old.


A record number of applications were submitted by high school students throughout the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys.

“Madeleine and Hailey have demonstrated exemplary achievements not only in their academics, but also as outstanding leaders in their communities,” Caruso said.

The Caruso Family Foundation established the Spirit of American Youth Scholarship in 2009.

The two-day Gourmet Food Expo had its West Coast debut last weekend.

After six years in Chicago and other Midwest and East Coast cities before that, expo promoters decided that the Glendale Civic Auditorium was the best in the West.

 Gourmet Food Expo
Cocoa Noir owner Armen Martin gives a taste of chocolate to Kaenan Koelsch, 10, at the Gourmet Food Expo.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

Expo promoter Martin Ellis said the local auditorium was “reasonable to rent, right off the freeway and allowed the tasting of wine and spirits.”


The big draw at the family-friendly expo was the chocolate.

The Cocoa Noir booth was front and center, brimming with hand-made chocolates infused with tastes from lavender to rosewater. The store itself is on Foothill Boulevard near the border of La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge.

Owner-operator Armen Martin and his wife, Liana, have run their artisan chocolate cafe for 1½ years. This is the first time Martin has displayed his goodies at the expo.

The Cocoa Noir booth attracted those with a sweet tooth, from toddlers to seniors. Brothers Kaenan Koelsch, 10, and Nashua Koelsch, 9, took full advantage of the freebies. Kaenan’s favorite was anything dark chocolate. His mom, Shannon, gave the go-ahead.

Cocoa Noir also sells specialty cakes, pastries, smoothies and Italian coffee.

Martin often discounts the sweets for elementary school children. The students at Crestview Prep in La Cañada Flintridge, for instance, receive a 10% discount on everything for one year. Birthday cakes are 15% off.

Martin also donates his confections to local charity events such as an upcoming party at the Lanterman House Museum.

When asked by a chocolate aficionado how long the chocolate would last, Martin answered, “Chocolate doesn’t get old.”


Friends and relatives pulled out all the stops to celebrate La Crescenta resident Eleanor Spaziano’s 80th birthday party. The Knights of Columbus Hall in Montrose was the scene of the partying on this past Saturday.

Eleanor Spaziano
Birthday girl Eleanor Spaziano of La Crescenta decorated her own birthday cake in an Asian motif.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

Some 150 guests were treated to appetizers and an Italian dinner. Enjoying the meal were members of Project Renewment, an organization of local retired women that Spaziano facilitates.

Partiers were Barbara Lester, Margot Nenzell and Phyllis Pahoundis. Spaziano is a retired social worker.

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