23 December, 2011

Nutcracker Ballet

The grace and beauty of our God was revealed in the recent performance of the Garden State Ballet held at Benedictine Academy.  Several of our Junior Students are performing members of the Ballet and blessed us with the gift of their talents. 

They were absolutely amazing!

It is a Benedictine Tradition to discover the Divine in the Arts.  Our curriculum includes the unique  privilege for students to attend classes at a professional dance / arts studio within walking distance of the school.   We believe each student has special gifts and talents to be identified and developed.  The Arts are a powerful reflection of the beauty of our Creator.  It provides a direct link to the soul, connecting the gentle spirit of humanity within and around us.   

We Remember & We Celebrate

Our Christmas Liturgy was celebrated in memory of our beloved chemistry teacher, Mr. Garcia.  Christmas is a time of joy, but it can also be a time of sadness as we remember the passing of those we love.  If we only really believed that they no longer suffered and their spirit lives on in a new way, we could truly celebrate their new life with the Lord.

Father Augustin, a Benedictine Monk from our brother school, St. Benedict's Prep, celebrated our beautiful Liturgy at the St. Walburga Monastery Chapel.  In his prayerful homily, he reflected on the image of Jesus knocking at the door of our hearts.  The outside of the door has no handle.  Jesus must be invited into our hearts.

Christmas is a time of faith, hope and love.  These are God's Christmas gifts to each of us.  Don't forget to open your gift of Jesus, beautifully wrapped outside the door of your heart this Christmas Season.

O Come all ye Faithful!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!  Look who came to join us in our annual Christmas party celebration after Celebration of the Liturgy... it is our dear friends, family and alumnae of the Benedictine Academy community.

 We sang... we laughed ...  we prayed and we shared our Christmas delicacies over happy music, and wonderful friendships.  At Benedictine Academy, we truly are a family that cares about one another.  It is a special place to bee!  Merry Christmas to all and to all a New Year full of Happiness.

Oh, Dasher, Prancer, Dannah and Blitzen!

'Twas the month before Christmas and all through the school
the green bees were abuzzing saying service is cool. 
The needs of the local communities were given with care,
In hopes that an SIA student would soon be there.
When out on the street there arose such a clatter
they sprang from their desks to see what was the matter
When what to their wondering eyes should appear?
But a BA student dressed in green uniform gear
While the little children at St. James were learning how to play basketball and solve their mathematical equations,
she was also visiting the elderly, 
 playing bingo and singing on special occasions.

Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! 
On Comet! On Cupid! on,on Dannah and Blitzen!
To the videos on human trafficking! to the baking of cupcakes and all!
She is our unsung hero and only a little over five feet tall.

She spoke not a word, since helping was her natural approach.
As tutor, and alter server and little kid's coach.
It is right, it is good , that we gather here today
to recognize Dannah Laguitan as our SIA hero, and applaud her you may.

Congratulations Dannah as our unsung hero of the month!

Tis the Season

This is a very busy time of the year as our students sang Christmas carols at the nursing home, collected clothes and toys for the Christmas Giving Tree, and donated almost 100 used shoes for Soles for Souls.

As Santa's elves were busy collecting all the goodness to share with those who have less than us, there were a few Secret Santa's who were busy shopping for families who had fallen on difficult times.  

Food baskets, bicycles, and gift cards were wrapped with love and delivered with care.  As one Staff member said, "How can I sit down to eat my Christmas meal knowing someone is sitting at a table with nothing to eat?"

What is the reason for the abundance of giving?   The love of Jesus in each of our hearts!  

20 December, 2011

Assemblyman Joseph Cryan says "YES"!

Yesterday, the JTB Club and the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation met with Assemblyman Joseph Cryan to ask for his sponsorship of the Assembly version of S3131.  The current law requires that the owner of an AED (automated emergency defibrillator) ensures that only persons holding current certification may use the AED in the event of an emergency.  There is currently a federal law and 41 states who have already issued an amendment to the Good Samaritan Law.  New Jersey is not one of these states.

This is an outdated law because the technology has advanced to the point that the use of an AED, according to recent studies, can even be safely used by an untrained sixth grader!  For every minute that an AED is not used on a victim of sudden cardiac arrest, that person's chance of survival goes down by 7-10%.  In the past year, there have been five reported deaths of young people in New Jersey because there was no AED available on site.  Four years ago, one of our own student's brothers died from an unexpected cardiac arrest on a school basketball court. No AED was available.

The meeting concluded with Assemblyman Cryan agreeing to sponsor the Assembly version of S3131!  he said, "There is no reason in good faith that this should not be done... it is an opportunity to save a life... important to a legacy (of the people whom we love whose lives have been lost)..." 

Assemblyman Cryan said he would make this one his most important top three priorities in the new year.  Thank you Assemblyman Cryan.  Merry Christmas!

Good Samaritans!

 Our Students In Action Leaders, Andrea Mendoza, Ariana Taveras, and Cheilas Cardosa met with the JoAnn Taylor Babbitt Foundation to discuss New Jersey legislation as they prepared for their meeting with Assemblyman Joseph Cryan.  There are 11 key steps in the process beginning with a legislator's sponsorship of a bill and concluding with the governor's signature of a bill into a law or veto of a bill.

Our goal was to request Assemblyman's sponsorship of a bill that would be the Assembly counterpart to S3131.  S3131 protects people who try to be Good Samaritans in saving the life of another in an emergency by using an AED (automated emergency defibrillator).

 Senator Vitale just introduced S3131 as a primary sponsor on December 1, 2011, but there currently is not an Assembly counterpart.  According to S3131, more than 350,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest, and the American Heart Association estimates that 100,000 of these deaths could have been prevented if AED's were more widely available. 

Social Activism is an integral part of our education at Benedictine Academy.  Compassionate Action permeates the school culture and is the driving force behind our Students In Action.


This past Thursday and Friday, several dozen students and staff were trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and in the use of an automated emergency defibrilltator. 

 Our JTB CLUB working with Atlantic Health Services and the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation arranged for this life-saving training at Benedictine Academy. 

There are often only precious minutes between life and death. 

At Benedictine Academy, we choose to be pro-active in making our school and the local communities a better place. 
Learn CPR Information
Learn CPR is a free public service supported by the University of Washington School of Medicine. Learn the basics of CPR - cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The American Heart Association issued updated CPR guidelines in October, 2010.
Check the victim for unresponsiveness. If the person is not responsive and not breathing or not breathing normally. Call 911 and return to the victim. In most locations the emergency dispatcher can assist you with CPR instructions.
If the victim is still not breathing normally, coughing or moving, begin chest compressions. Push down in the center of the chest 2 inches 30 times. Pump hard and fast at the rate of at least 100/minute, faster than once per second.

3. BLOW Tilt the head back and lift the chin. Pinch nose and cover the mouth with yours and blow until you see the chest rise. Give 2 breaths. Each breath should take 1 second.

Delivering Happiness

Benedictine Academy was recently interviewed by the Educational Division of the Delivering Happiness Division of Zappos, a successful Internet retailer that had over 1 billion dollars in gross merchandising sales.  Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, was a Harvard graduate who determined that delivering happiness through wow experiences to their customers and seeking higher meaning in life was the true pathway to success.   
The following are excerpts from the interview that recently appeared on their Delivering Happiness Website.  We would like to give a special  "Thank you" to Shari Countryman, the  interviewer.
BA:  "Students need a sense of empowerment and parents need a school that can make a difference."  The dedication and loyalty of the Benedictine Sisters and staff, combined with a deep belief in young people, are the driving force behind our small school and its mighty impact.
ZAPPOS:  Prospective students as well as classroom guests are treated to a WOW experience which included crowns and VIP buttons, magic swords, special cards, and poems.  And students and staff within the school were equally recognized for their remarkable efforts in making our world a better place.
The idea was to do the remarkable and be remarkable.  And it’s the school’s job to motivate the students to peak performance.
BA:  "We successfully shifted the typical young attitude from indifference and entitlement to passion and empowerment.  Our students are truly happy to do something to make our world a better place.”
ZAPPOS:  Evidence that the cultural shift had firmly taken hold occurred when Benedictine Academy was awarded the Jefferson Award Gold Medal for Public Service, an award co-founded by Jacqueline Onassis.  It is known as the “Nobel Prize for Service.
BA:  It is our hope that our school becomes the model for other educational systems to follow. Plans are underway to create a DH-based curriculum and a Delivering Happiness handbook.  What makes us happy at Benedictine Academy  is seeing the students and staff happy and full of passion. Interestingly enough, the root of our school’s name (Benedictine) is ‘benedictus’ which means “HAPPINESS!

18 December, 2011

Deeper Encounters With God

This Advent Season we join Mary to receive an invitation from the Lord.  Mary said "yes" to be united with Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit...  and we said "yes"  to prepare our hearts to receive healing by the same power of the Holy Spirit.  Father Edwin Leahy, the Headmaster of St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, and five priests from the local parishes blessed our school community with the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Sacraments are deeper encounters with God.  It is a sacred time to begin new with our Lord Jesus, ourselves and with others.  Although it is a very humbling experience to say "I am sorry", these are very powerful words for forgiveness.  It is a valuable experience to learn from our mistakes of yesterday, so that we may be wiser today.

In our hearts we pray, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."  Amen.

07 December, 2011

Santa's Elves visit St. Joseph's Social Services

The National Honor Society Students led Santa's sleigh to Divine Mercy Parish in Rahway to help St. Joseph's Social Services get ready for Christmas.  It was an amazing fun experience as they sorted clothes, games, and other gift items for all the boys and girls, young and old.  

What was the best part of the day? Seeing the smiles on the Church members' faces.  Their grateful hearts made our time all the more joyful!  

06 December, 2011


 On Dec. 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas we celebrated the faithfulness and generosity of the real Bishop Nicholas of Myra. Nicholas was a saint known as the Wonderworker for the many miracles of love God granted through his intercession for the poor and young children. He became a model for the legend of Santa Claus and the joy of gift-giving during Christmas.

 In 1897, an eight year old young girl asked the editor of the newspaper, the New York Sun, if there really was a Santa Claus. " And the editor Francis Church responded,

 "....Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. ... . Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever. ..."

Our Campus Ministers, Santa and her many elves delivered gifts to all our staff and guests with young children.
And everyone was invited to send a letter to Santa Claus with one wish for a better world in the year 2011. Santa will be delivering these letters to Macy's as part of their Make a Wish Program. For every postcard they receive, Macy's will be donating $1. to Make a Wish Foundation for young children with a terminal illness. Doing small things with great love is a tradition at Benedictine Academy!

911 Good Deeds Changing the World

Our Senior Student Leaders felt called to do more to overcome the suffering of so many lives. Believing that love can conquer evil, they invited every student and staff member to pledge to perform at least 5 good deeds,  911 Acts of Compassionate Action. The Freshmen students were most enthusiastic about spreading the Lord's kindness.

With every act of kindness, they gave Father Mychal Judge's prayer card. Father Mychal Judge was the Franciscan Chaplain to the New York City Firefighters. He laid down his life in an effort to save another life at the Twin Towers ten years ago. As a remembrance of our pledge, the students built a Memorial Tower of Kindness:



The school's Student Council sponsored a Thanksgiving Food Drive and collected over 1500 cans and boxes of dry goods to feed those who have fallen on hard times.

Operation Christmas Box, Soles for Souls, Christmas Giving Tree, Crazy hats for Cancer, donations for Domestic Violence, Adopt-a-school in the Ukraine to educate against human trafficking, Singing for the elderly in nursing homes, and tutoring young children are only a few of the acts of kindnesses our students are performing to help make our world a better place.


Each time we celebrate the Liturgy at the Benedictine Sisters' beautiful St. Walburga Monastery Chapel, we are renewed as one body in our Lord, Jesus Christ.   Today was a special day.  After having studied the liturgical changes in the Mass, our students were able to fully engage in the Mass with a clearer understanding of its deeper meanings.  

Our new friend, Father Dong of St. Theresa's Parish, returned as our celebrant.  His prayerful intonation and insightful homilies are such a gift to our school community.

Jesus offers each of us healing if we have faith.  The operative word is faith, to believe.  How often are we blind to the life that God wishes to bestow upon us?  What is it that blinds us in our lives?  Who is it that we act blind to each day?  The Good News is that Jesus desires to heal us from our blindness if only we have faith.  

Our Gospel Choir and Sister Germaine led us in song as we called "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"  during this Advent Season.  We invite all our family and friends to join us every First Friday for the celebration of Liturgy at 10:00 a.m..  All are welcomed.  Please check the website ahead for any changes in the schedule.

03 December, 2011


"Each year the Newark Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women honors a Woman of Faith, a Woman of Action. She is a woman whose faith is expressed through outstanding works of charity or community service, either through volunteer efforts or in her professional life, and are activities beyond the usual parish ministries or work requirements.
She is a woman who exemplifies in her life and actions an unselfish commitment to social justice and works of mercy. 
Congratulations Linda Michalski!"
Jeanette Schneider, President

"This award really belongs to the Lord
who makes everything I do possible. 
A special thanks to Brother Ralph Darmento, Sister Germaine Fritz,
Ken Jennings, Sister Donna Jo Repetti, Rosemary Anderson, Mary Young and the BA family whose support and encouragement strengthen me to do God's will.  Let us not forget all of my wonderful students, most especially our Globe Changers.  Together, we can and will transform our society into a more empathic civilization."
With a grateful heart, Linda a/k/a Mrs.M.  

02 December, 2011

International Day of Abolition of Slavery

This week you have been reading many articles on our blog regarding our advocacy efforts to help abolish Human Trafficking.  You may be wondering,  `why so much emphasis on this horrible situation in our world?'  I, myself, was thinking as I began a new post, "not another one!".  

If I was feeling this way, how must my two readers be feeling?  Then the answer came to me. HUMAN TRAFFICKING MUST BE STOPPED!  Young girls lives were at risk and we needed to do something.   We have a part to play in history and no one's signature can take the place of our own.
The United Nations declared December 2 as the International Day of Abolition of Slavery.  
As you are aware, we reached out to be in partnership with St. Scholastica Academy in the Philippines.  We would like to introduce you to a Lion-Hearted Woman with whom we are blessed to work together on this 21st Century Modern Day Slavery.  

This is only the first of many partnerships being planned by our student Campus Ministers called the Globe Changers.

Rally in Trenton

Benedictine Academy joined more than 1,000 people in Trenton in a rally to support a bill to support the Opportunity Scholarship Act that has been stalled in the legislative process. 

The issue is rather simple.  Like so many other schools and Administrators who attended the rally, "We believe that it is a civil right for parents to have a choice in the education of their child. Faith-based education has a right to be included in the list of opportunities, as much as any other type of school." 

Sister Germaine Fritz, President, and Rosemary Anderson, Development Manager, led the way with a bus load of students and their parents.  Standing in the cold in front of the State House did not discourage Senior student, Ariana, from speaking out on behalf of young people.  At Benedictine Academy, it is part of our Mission Statement that we provide equal opportunity for all young girls to receive a quality college-preparatory education.


Benedictine Academy Student Campus Ministry Leaders (known as the Globe Changers) reached out to St. Scholastica Academy High School in the Philippines to join us in our advocacy efforts to commemorate December 2, the International Day of the Abolition of Modern Slavery.

As a result, we recently received the following e-mail from several Lion-Hearted Women that was most inspiring and empowering:

Recently I had been invited by Goodwill Ambassador for the Jefferson Institute, Jan Chavez-Arceo, to participate in the  global campaign against human trafficking & modern-day slavery.  I am also partnering with my school, St. Scholastica's College  Manila, as I had been a long time supporter of their project,  "Bahay Lila" a house for battered women and children.  For your information, I will be representing my company and  include this in my Civility Counts Projects here in Manila. I am  confident that lending a hand to this cause will definitely give  this campaign the push it needs so that those very vulnerable,  especially young women will not be victimized. I urge you to join us in championing this cause. Should you have  any questions, Jan and I will be more than glad to be of assistance.  Thank you and all the best.  

Warm wishes, Ms.OMS. OLEN JUAREZ-LIM, AICI FLCManaging DirectorOJL Consulting Group

We are sincerely humbled by the opportunity to join forces against the gross injustices of human trafficking with these Lion-Hearted Women in the Philippines!  


Frederick Douglass Family Foundation has joined the United Nations in commemorating December 2 as the International Day for the Abolition of Modern Slavery

Over 4 million people were freed from slavery because of the Emancipation inspired by former slave and advisor to Abraham Lincoln,Frederick Douglass, great great great grandfather of Kenneth Morris, Jr., the current founder and President of the FDF Foundation.  Sadly, there are now 12 -30 million people enslaved in our global society today. 
It is believed that education is the key to raising awareness and bringing a halt to this gross injustice. 

Three of our Senior Globe Changers students have the privilege of being part of their National Youth Council.  Recently, they had been invited to submit video footage to be edited and joined with 50 other students' filming across the country. 

Take a peak at our footage set to the song being used by FDFF called the Power of One by Israel Houghton.

01 December, 2011


We are taking a stand in the fight against human trafficking.  It is agreed by the World Leaders that education is the answer to protecting our youth from falling victim to this modern day form of slavery. 

We must be a voice for the voiceless.  It is our moral responsibility to help free the oppressed.  Approximately 40% of our student body took a vow of silence to help raise awareness and funds regarding this gross injustice. 

 Each of the students wore black as a sign of their solidarity with their sisters and brothers who were suffering and a statistic that often was as startling as it was saddening.  

Did you ever wonder how blessed we are for our lives in America as compared to children across the continents who are enslaved by child labor?  

It was a silent, but loud call for us to take Compassionate Action.  Working as a partner school with the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation , we are promoting the education of children against the dangers of human trafficking. 

Through the Power of One and the Power of We, we believe we can change the world and change history for the years to come.


This past Sunday was the beginning of the Church's new liturgical year, Advent (meaning, "ad-venio in Latin or "to come to").  The Advent season is a time to prepare our hearts to receive Jesus in a deeper way this Christmas season.  

As we prepared our Christmas wreath for the blessing, we also reflected on the new liturgical changes in the Mass.  The Mass had not undergone any revisions since Vatican Council II.  Now was the Time!  Be prepared and on watch for new meanings that are a closer interpretation of the Word of God. 

Although the traditional colors for the candles are purple and rose, we selected the alternative option of blue for the Blessed Virgin Mary and the color of suffering.  This Friday has been declared as the International Day for the Abolition of Modern Slavery.  Let us pray that we replace oppression with the love of God.


The theme of the Junior Retreat was "Living Water".   "If anyone thirsts, let her come to Me."  We had the privilege of retreating at the United Water Company in Hawthorne with our good friend and Retreat Director, Eddie of Eagle's WIngs.  As we toured the water treatment facility and learned of the purification process, we reflected on our own muddy waters that needed to be cleansed by our Lord and each other's kindness. 

We laughed, we prayed and we ate together.  The day flew by as we experienced the Power of Unity which broke through our comfort zones that so often separates us.  

 It was such a grace-filled day as our students listened, learned, and left full of God's love in their hearts for their sisters. At Benedictine Academy, we are one sacred community and Jesus is the apex of our daily lives. 

25 November, 2011

Mrs. & Mr. Everton Harris Visits BA

Each year, we have the distinct pleasure of seeing our dear Ericka Davis, Class of 2007, come visit during our Thanksgiving Prayer Service.  This year, she brought her new husband, Everton to meet her Benedictine Academy family!  Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Davis!

Ericka is currently studying Early childhood and is President of Ladies with Values.  Her husband, also studying and a Preacher, has recently opened his new church near their college campus in North Carolina.  They visited with several of the freshmen classes sharing the importance of self-respect and listening to the Word of the Lord.  When asked what was their favorite Scripture passage, they replied:
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want... " Psalm 23 

We gave Ericka and Everton a WOW experience in appreciation of their encouraging words of wisdom and warm hearts. 


During our Thanksgiving Prayer Service, we gave thanks for all the acts of mercy and good works that our entire school community has been performing.  November was overflowing with food drives, clothing collections, operation shoe box for little children, bake sales, tutoring, and helping the homeless. However, there was one outstanding student who stood out among her classmates.

Caroline, a Student In Action Leader, proudly shared how this unsung hero spends several hours each and every week tutoring young children who cannot speak English, visiting the elderly in nursing homes, and reaching out to lend a hand to anyone in the local community who is in need. 

When asked why, she simply replied it was her life-long passion to help others.  It gives her great joy when she can bring a smile or share her gifts or talents.  The students applauded loudly when they heard it was Ewa, a sophomore student leader. We give thanks to God for Ewa and ask God to bless her in abundance as she has blessed all of us.

Attitude of Gratitude

It is a Thanksgiving Tradition to have our loyal friend, Rev. Bill Paige, share a Thanksgiving reflection for our Ecumenical Prayer Service. We had the added blessing of meeting his delightful granddaughter, Morgan.  

The Scripture reading was from Luke's gospel: Jesus parable of the Ten Lepers.  Jesus healed ten lepers and yet only one returned to say "thank you".  The power of "thank you" is so underestimated and under utilized in our daily lives.  What does it cost?  We are so quick to ask for help, for God and others to have pity on us, but so slow to give thanks and praise in return.

Bill reminded us of the importance of showing our gratitude to God as well as other people in our lives. Let us remember to say "thank you" and show a grateful heart for every kindness shown to us.  It will bring us, the Lord and others much happiness.

N.J. Governor's Award

A few weeks ago, the Star Ledger issued a special edition spreading the Good News on Benedictine Academy's SHAC SQUAD.  The Shac Squad had received the N.J. Governor's Award for their efforts in raising awareness to help eradicate Human Trafficking.  
Our Students In Action Leaders were selected, one of nineteen nominees out of over 800 adult/youth nominations in the state, for their exceptional community volunteer service and acts of charity!  
The New Jersey Youth Service Award recognized their work with the United Nations Blue Heart Campaign,  Colleges and Universities, and younger children in the local communities.