KHS’s De Los Santos receiving prestigious Governor’s Award

There are plenty of superlatives that come to mind when the name Gabriel De Los Santos is mentioned, chiefly among them, talented singer, tremendous actor, future in the business. Now there’s one more thing to add to that ever-growing list — recipient of the prestigious New Jersey Governor’s Award for Arts Education.

And get this — it was the folks at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center — NJPAC — who nominated him for excellence in music. The state informed Kearny Superintendent of Schools Patricia Blood and Kearny High School Principal Jackie Richardson of his selection by email.

De Los Santos has been singing for years in Kearny — often at the town’s Christmas Tree lighting — and has had integral roles in musical productions at Kearny High School. These are only a handful of his accomplishments, so it really comes as no surprise to anyone who knows this young man that he’s being honored statewide.

It surely wasn’t a surprise for his principal, Jacki Richardson.

“I … we … are so very proud of Gabriel. The whole school community pulled together to vote for him to get in a top spot for a singing competition. His voice is angelic and I cannot wait to see his name in lights and on a song billboard somewhere. He’s that talented and down to earth. I’m looking forward to what the future brings to him and his family,” Richardson said.

Soon-to-retire Superintendent of Schools Patricia Blood echoed Richardson’s sentiments.

“The entire Kearny School community is extremely proud of Gabriel’s recognition as a recipient of the 2022 Governor’s Award in Arts Education,” Blood saui. “Gabriel has been an active member of Kearny High School’s Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, performing in lead roles in productions of “In the Heights” and “The Addams Family.”  He received high honors in Teen Arts in both 2018 and 2019, and won Outstanding Achievement in the Virtual Setting in 2021. Gabriel’s hard work and commitment to the arts is noteworthy, and the entire faculty and administration is thrilled to see him recognized for his efforts. I know his future will be very bright!”

Now, perhaps even more impressive, to boot, De Los Santos is one of only a handful of kids from Hudson County — and the only student in The Observer’s readership area — to be receiving an award of this nature.

So just what are these awards? Well, according to the organizers, “the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education program was established in 1980 to celebrate artistic excellence and create visibility, awareness and appreciation for the impact the arts have on our lives and culture. These awards represent the highest honor given in New Jersey, honoring the outstanding creative achievements of students, the promotion and support of arts education by educators and arts organizations.”

It’s all coordinated by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Each year, there’s a special awards ceremony — but it’s been remote since 2020 thanks to the pandemic. But this year, it is back to being in-person, and will take place Thursday, May 26, at the Patriot’s Theatre at the War Memorial in Trenton, and will be live streamed via YouTube, Facebook Live and at Those who wish to attend the ceremony may get tickets at that same website, as well.

Curtains for the event open at 4 p.m.

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Editor & Broadcaster at 

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.