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Billy Joel presents $20,000 scholarship to LIHSA alum

Billy Joel presents a $20,000 award to Bellmore

Billy Joel presents a $20,000 award to Bellmore high school graduate Jeremy Kaplan before the piano man's sold-out residency show at Madison Square Garden on Aug. 21, 2017. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Billy Joel continued his support of the Nassau BOCES Long Island High School for the Arts, presenting a $20,000 scholarship to recent graduate Jeremy Kaplan before his sold-out show at Madison Square Garden Monday night.

“That school is such a great school,” Joel said. “It’s very important to Long Island. We just need to let people know it’s there.”

Joel was impressed by Kaplan’s choice of school, Berklee College of Music in Boston, as well as his choice to learn Joel’s classical piece “Reverie” for a recent piano competition.

Kaplan, 18, says learning the piece gave him a deeper respect for Joel’s artistry. “You already know that he is this great songwriter,” he said. “But this was something else.”

Joel, 68, hopes that more Long Island students will be inspired to look at careers in the arts after seeing what Kaplan and other LIHSA students can accomplish.

Joel’s foundation donated $1 million last year to save the school, which is Long Island’s only public high school arts program, helping cover the school’s $400,000 deficit last year. However, Joel’s goal now is to make the school self-sufficient by getting more students interested in enrolling.

He delivered a master class last year aimed at current and prospective students.

Kaplan, of Bellmore, attended that class and was also a finalist at a recent Long Island piano competition based on Joel’s classical work “Fantasies & Delusions.”

At LIHSA, Kaplan served as president of the school’s chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, which he helped to found. He was the musical director for the school’s 2016 production, a pianist for the jazz ensemble and even performed at the Nassau BOCES Education Partner Awards Gala.

“Jeremy is a musician of very high standards who inspires others to perform at the highest levels,” said Jerry Nobile, who taught Kaplan at LIHSA. “He is a patient, trustworthy, respectful and responsible student and musician. We can always count on him to come to class with a cheerful attitude, fully prepared to participate. Jeremy has proven himself to be a leader, an asset, and an outstanding representative of our school and of Nassau BOCES.”

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