23 June, 2011


2011 Jefferson Awards Gala Dinner

There is so much talk about the Jefferson Awards (can you tell how excited and proud we are?) that we thought it might be beneficial to take a moment and do a mini-review on the Jefferson Awards Students In Action Program. The following is an excerpt from the 2011 Jefferson Awards National Report on Volunteering & Service in America to the U.S. Senate & White House.

Sam Beard and Hon. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

"Students In Action excites and motivate students, while helping schools put a system into place that maximizes volunteerism and learning. At the core of the program are student leaders."

Student leaders receive extensive training and are assisted by faculty coordinators/ mentors, Linda Michalski and Sr. Donna Jo, for Benedictine Academy.

Students In Action have seven goals:

1. ENGAGE SCHOOL COMMUNITY. Build significant awareness and interest in volunteerism.

2. CREATE EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP. Apply team leadership skills to lifelong civil engagement.

3. EXPAND VOLUNTEER CAPACITY. Expand both volunteer hours and the number of volunteer projects.

4. EXPAND FINANCIAL CAPACITY FOR VOLUNTEERS. Raise $2-5 k to invest in volunteerism within the school.

5. TELL STORIES IN THE COMMUNITY. Build greater community awareness of the positive impact of youth.

6. GROW AND EXPAND. Increase overall high school volunteerism to other schools.

7. INNOVATE. Leverage best practices and learn how to be effective.

Robert Ford, the Executive Director of the Jefferson Award program further explains, "America believes in the power of We. We help our neighbors. We help our communities. We help the world. In fact our nation believes so much in the power of We that "We the People"... begins one of our most important documents, the Constitution. These words are about the power of people working together,of collaborating as individuals, of becoming greater than the sum of the parts.

In essence, the Jefferson Awards for Public Service takes the Power of One and makes it the Power of We as we recognize, inspire and activate volunteerism and public service in communities, workplaces and schools across America. Young Americans, in particular, love to share and work together. Our youth programs epitomize the Power of We."

Jan Chavez-Arceo + Sister Donna Jo Repetti, OSF

At Benedictine Academy, we also believe in the Power of We and We are committed to making a difference in our world. It is our hope that you will call us and join us as we become Global Leaders of Change. For more information, please contact Linda Michalski, Campus Ministry, at (908) 352-0670, ext. 125.


On June 21, 2011 on Capitol Hill, the Jefferson Awards National Report on volunteering and service in America to the U.S. Senate and the White House was presented. Benedictine Academy, recognized by the Jefferson Awards as the "Best New School in 2011 for Volunteer Public Service in America" received the distinct privilege to speak to the U.S. Senate.

Students In Action is a National Youth Leadership Program that provides high school students with a framework, new skills and tools and empowers them to be the change that they wish to see in the world.

Ariana Taveras and Andrea Mendoza shared about the impact that the Students In Action program has had on the student body at Benedictine Academy, and how it has empowered them to take on global issues. Joining Ariana and Andrea is Jan Chavez-Arceo, who is the Jefferson Awards Goodwill Ambassador to the Philippines."

This attitude of compassion and empowerment has not only affected our team, but also our entire school!


The National Ceremonies for the Jefferson Awards, the Nobel Prize for Public Service, was held in our nation's capitol, Washington DC this June 20-21, 2011. Benedictine Academy was invited to attend this most prestigious event because of their endless hard work and award winning programs on Anti-Bullying and Human Trafficking. We proudly received the National Jefferson Award for Best New School across the nation in 2011 for outstanding volunteer public service!

"Our entire school community's passion to become a voice for the voiceless was hope-filled because of our partnership with Jefferson Awards. Jefferson Awards inspired us to dream big."

Our Campus Ministers spoke at the National Youth Summit, on Cablevision with Mayor Bollwage, at the United Nations with the Office of Drug and Crime Commission, and most recently before the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C..

Each year, Jefferson Awards receives over 40,000 nominations for individuals, youth groups, athletes, and non-profit organizations who are making remarkable contributions in our world. This year's 2011 National Winners included Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Athlete Warrick Dunn, and Lifetime Jefferson Award winner Marlo Thomas. We stood among the great people in our lifetime in our nation's capitol, walked in the shadows of every President of the United States of America, and listened to the countless inspiring stories of ordinary human beings making an extraordinary difference.

It was such a privilege and an honor for Benedictine Academy to be one of the very few schools chosen to participate in such a prestigious event.
A truly humbling experience that has placed an awesome responsibility upon our shoulders and within our hearts.

We thank God for this amazing opportunity to be his servant leaders. It is part of our school's mission belief statements to love to learn and learn to love. Listening with the ear of our hearts, our Students In Action Leaders have committed themselves to becoming leaders of change in the local and global communities.

11 June, 2011

CNN: Paper Planes for Freedom

We were awarded the CNN Badge for our IReports and were included as part of their compilation of videos. It is only a few seconds so don't blink! http://http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/ireports/2011/06/16/irpt.freedom.proj.airlines.cnn?iref=videosearch

CNN challenges all people to take the next step in spreading the message even further about human trafficking and we said “YES!” Here are the facts to consider:

> Each year, between 600,000 and 800,000 human beings are captured and transported across international borders.
> There are at least 10 million slaves in the world today.
> There are more slaves now than any point in human history.

Their assignment was build “Paper Airplanes for Freedom” as a symbol of the path towards freedom. Write a fact on one wing and a message of hope on another and pass it on.

This Friday, we gathered as one sacred community and awarded several dozen students for their significant achievements in academics, the arts, and volunteer public service. The Peace & Justice Club concluded the event with a giant step of solidarity to take a stand to end modern day slavery. Every student in the school flew a paper airplane and committed to pass it on to raise awareness that this gross injustice must be stopped.

Led by Andrea, Ariana, and MaryAnn, the assembly followed into the cafeteria for a petition signing asking Hershey to raise the bar and go fair trade. As their “thank you” for everyone’s support during the entire year in their volunteer service efforts, the SHAC Squad served "NO MORE S'MORES" cakesters and water to the entire school community. The energy in the room was exhilarating. Together we can and are doing something to make our world a better place.

In January, President Barack Obama issued a Proclamation calling all Americans to help eradicate this 21st century modern day slavery. We would love to have you join us, simply call Campus Ministry (908) 352-0670, ext. 125 for details.

NJ Governor's Jefferson Award

When you think that you already have been blessed in abundance, our God of surprises shows you that He is not finished yet. God in His extravagant love showered more blessings upon our students this past week. At a Dinner and Awards Ceremony at the Newark Museum, Sam Beard, the co-founder of the Jefferson Awards, and Kim Guadagno, Lt. Governor/Secretary of State, honored the best of the best for their volunteer public service in the State of New Jersey.

There were 19 categories/Honorees and over 1,000 essays to choose from in the honoree selection process. Benedictine Academy's Campus Ministry Club, Students Helping All Children, was honored as the #1 Youth Group in the State for their tireless work in raising awareness to stop human trafficking. Jeffersonians are individuals /groups who take knowledge learned and do something to help change people's lives for the better.

Benedictine Academy has been educating global leaders of change for 96 years. Our graduates have been leaving a living legacy for the next generations to follow for decades. Wednesday evening, there were two other Benedictine alumnae honored for their outstanding dedication to public service. Donna Sandrose built the Literacy Volunteers of Union County network and is working with Voice for New Jersey to ensure appropriate media coverage for the state. Maureen McKee Morrison, Class of 1938, was awarded for a lifetime of service to the church and the community as she brought hope and love to patients in hospitals, USO, the poor, and the home bound.

Maureen McKee Morrison, Class of 1938

We each have the ability to change people's lives. "You only need a soul full of grace and a heart full of love", says Martin Luther King, Jr. At Benedictine Academy, we have a school full of the Spirit of God guiding and inspiring our students to do something to help their brothers and sisters.

Take A Stand

Our Campus Ministry Team continued their endeavors to Take a Stand against Child Slave Labor in the Chocolate Industry. This past Wednesday, Benedictine Academy joined forces with Green America, Global Exchange, and the International Labor Organization, along with hundreds of other concerned citizens, to ask Hershey to implement fair trade practices in their manufacturing of chocolate. The Raise the Bar: Hershey Rally in Times Square was amazing even in 96 degree temperatures.

As Candace Harvey said, "At least we have a choice. What about the kids in the Ivory Coast working in the hot sun? How wrong is that slavery." Child slave labor is immoral. Young Children are being forced away from their families to work long hours for no or little pay, and are unable to attend school.

"This isn't just a boycott," said Ariana Taveras, the co-leader of our Peace & Justice Club, "we're pushing for reform in a company that has the power to do great things." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ariana-taveras/why-i-am-marching-at-hers_b_871973.html

Andrea Mendoza, the other co-leader, added, " The power of signs to raise awareness is phenomenal. As we walked almost 15 blocks from Penn Station to Times Square, people on tour buses and passing by pedestrians stopped to read our signs, smiled and gave us a thumbs up." We would like to add a THUMBS UP to the Harvey Sisters, our Benedictine alumnae, who joined us and produced this awesome documentary for us.


The Harvey Sisters

Baccalaureate Mass

Ludmilla Perez, St. Scholastica Award Winner

It was a blessed day as we celebrated and gave thanks to the Lord for the privilege and awesome responsibility to educate and graduate the Class of 2011. These beautiful young women of God have listened with the ear of their hearts, learned knowledge and sound ethical reasoning, loved to serve others, and became global leaders of change. Ludmilla Perez was bestowed the highest Benedictine Academy honor, the St. Scholastica Award for her outstanding achievements to the school and local communities. Mr. Ken Jennings, Principal, looked on with pride as she spoke with deep humility and respect of her four most wonderful years at the school. At Benedictine Academy, students enter our doors as strangers and leave as sisters for life.