25 July, 2012

We love our Sisters!

On these beautiful summer days, a gift from our Creator, 
we give thanks to God for another gift - the gift of our Religious Sisters.  

21 June, 2012


It was a most awe-inspiring, humbling experience for BENEDICTINE ACADEMY to be awarded the  NATIONAL GOLD MEDAL for PUBLIC SERVICE.   Known as the Nobel Prize for Service, Benedictine Academy was awarded the Jefferson Gold Medal for the Greatest Public Service by a High School in the entire nation!

Sam Beard, President and Co-Founder of the Jefferson Awards
(Play Video)

The preliminary Gala Events began Monday evening with the presentation of the Jefferson Gold Awards for the 13 Regional High Schools across the United States of America.  Benedictine Academy was presented with an autographed lithograph by famed artist Peter Max of the White House for the Jefferson Awards Students In Action 2012 Outstanding Service by New Jersey High School.  This was only the beginning...

BENEDICTINE ACADEMY also was awarded The National Jefferson Gold Award for Greatest Public Service by a High School.  The National Jefferson Gold Award was announced Tuesday afternoon and presented to Benedictine Academy at the evening gala.  SIA Moderators, Mrs. Linda Michalski, Sr. Donna Jo Repetti, and Ms. Ashley Powell, attended the various events with Senior Graduates Ariana Taveras, Andrea Mendoza, and Dannah Laguitan.

                                                  (Robert Sakowitz, Board Member of the Jefferson Awards)  
                                                 L to R: (Dannah Laguitan, Andrea Mendoza, Ariana Taveras)
                                                 BENEDICTINE ACADEMY SIA Globe Changers Leaders, Class of 2012

At the historic Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., we were in the company of great humanitarians such as David H. Petraeus, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  Four Star General David H. Petraeus led the United States Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and was also the recipient of the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award. He received the Jefferson Gold Medal for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official.

(Play Video)
Jim Kelly, Hall Of Fame Quarterback of the Buffalo Bills,  received the Jefferson Gold Medal for Greatest Public Service by a Professional Athlete. After the death of his son, Hunter, he formed Hunter's Hope Foundation to help promote new born screening for genetic or metabolic disorders.

(Play Video)
Hall of Fame Hockey Player, Pat LaFontane formed a group for creating game rooms for children in hospitals around the country.  Race car driver, Charlie Kimball, was recognized for his unceasing work as spokesperson for Diabetes.

Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis, two most amazing performers, won the Jefferson Gold Medal for Greatest Public Service by Private Citizens.  They are Creator's of the Musicians' Village in New Orleans in an effort to help bring healing through the Arts and Music after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  Harry Connick, Jr. is a well known singer/actor and Branford Marsalis, an awesome jazz saxaphonist.

(Play Video)

Jourdan Urbach, a violin virtuoso, was trained at Julliard and Yale University, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the United Nations.  As founder of Concerts for a Cure, Jourdan has raised over 10 million dollars to fight children's neurological diseases.  He is the recipient of the Tribecca Film Festival Innovator Award, World of Children Award, and now the Jefferson Gold Medal Globe Changer Award for his work in Global Child Advocacy.

(Play Video)
Benedictine Academy attended the breath-taking events with graduating seniors, Dannah Laguitan, Andrea Mendoza, and Ariana Taveras, Class of 2012.   On behalf of the Students In Action Senior Globe Changers (Ariana Taveras (President), Caroline Antonio, Dannah Laguitan, Andrea Mendoza, Cinthya Pizarro), the SIA Leadership Team and the entire Benedictine Academy School Community, we received the Jefferson Gold Medal Award for Greatest Public Service by a High School.  Benedictine Academy competed against over 350 other Students In Action Service Leadership Schools across the country.  The thirteen Regional State High School winners were evaluated by the Jefferson Awards Board of Selectors in Washington DC.   Benedictine Academy's accomplishments were scored based on Seven Directives. We received a scoring of 99.5 (out of 100)!

 (Left: Karen Hatcher (Jefferson Awards SIA Regional New Jersey Director), Andrea Mendoza (Salutatorian, Class of 2012), Ariana Taveras (St. Scholastica Award, Class of 2012), Mrs. Michalski (Theology Chair, Co- Moderator), Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Sr. Donna Jo Repetti, OSF (Director of Guidance),  Dannah Laguitan (Public Speaking Award, Class of 2012), Ashley Powell (English Teacher, Students In Action Co-Moderator, not present in photo)  

The Jefferson Gold Medal was awarded to Benedictine Academy in recognition of their civil advocacy in the area of Human Trafficking, systemic change in legislation for the protection of Good Samaritans, and for engaging other young people in Delivering Happiness through their compassionate action to help others.  The Delivering Happiness Program was implemented by the entire school community through the leadership of the School Clubs.  Accepting the Jefferson Gold Medal for Greatest Outstanding High School on behalf of Benedictine Academy were Dannah Laguitan, Andrea Mendoza, Ariana Taveras, Class of 2012, supported by their Moderators, Linda Michalski, Ashley Powell, and Sister Donna Jo Repetti, OSF.  

(Left to Right:  Gokce Yurekli,  New Jersey Regional SIA Staff, Mrs. Linda Michalski (Theology Chair/ SIA Co-Moderator), Robert Provost ( Marketing Director of the Star Ledger, Jefferson Awards Media Partner), Karen Hatcher (Jefferson Awards SIA Regional New Jersey Director), Andrea Mendoza (Salutatorian, Class of 2012), Ariana Taveras (St. Scholastica Award, Class of 2012), Dannah Laguitan (Public Speaking Award, Class of 2012),  Zachery Certner (Jefferson Award Youth Service Challenge Winner), Sr. Donna Jo Repetti, OSF (Director of Guidance), and Ashley Powell (not present in photo - English Teacher/SIA Co-Moderator) 

(Play Video)
Lesley Stahl, Correspondent 60 Minutes
Jack Russi, Management Partner Deloitte & Touche,
Jefferson Award Board Member

At the personal invitation of Sam Beard, President and Co-Founder of Jefferson Awards, Ariana Taveras, President of the Benedictine Academy SIA Globe Changers, received the honor to speak to the assembly of over 500 dignitaries, honorees, and invited guests regarding the significance of the Jefferson Award to young people's lives at Benedictine Academy.  She received an overwhelming standing ovation.  Bravo Ariana and Benedictine Academy!
(Play Video)
The Jefferson Gold Medal is known as the NOBEL PRIZE for Public Service.  This year was 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Jefferson Awards.  Co-founders, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, established the Jefferson Awards for Public Service "to recognize and honor individuals whose community volunteer efforts best exemplify dedication to enhancing the quality of life in their local and global communities".

(Play Video)
To celebrate this history making event, were the world champion renowned "wall of sound" performers, the Alexandria Harmonizers, joined by Rev. Dr. Bernard Richardson, Dean of Howard University.

The charming and delightful Lesley Stahl, CBS Anchor, was Mistress of Ceremonies.

Throughout the evening, we enjoyed the show stopper entertainment orchestrated by Producer/Director Rupert Hitzig (Left: Receiving Award ) including Top Cabaret Broadway Star, Jason Graae and Tony Award winner Faith Prince( below).

             It was an amazing evening.

(Play Video)
Thank you Lord, for the honor and privilege 
of being part of such a momentous experience.

A special thanks to Sam Beard, Maryann Younger, Robert Provost and Karen Hatcher.
We are deeply grateful for your support, encouragement and guidance. 

Special Prayers and Blessings for our Benedictine Sisters, 
Franciscan Sisters,
Benefactors, Families and Friends.
The Jefferson Gold Medal belongs to all of you!

(Play Video)

The Jefferson Award SIA Team at Benedictine Academy Senior Globe Changers:Ariana Taveras(President), Caroline Antonio, Dannah Laguitan, Andrea Mendoza, Cinthya Pizarro, and the SIA Leadership Team:(Class of 2012) Caroline Antonio, Cheila Cardosa, Cassandra Francois, Brittany Henderson, Dannah Laguitan, Andrea Mendoza, Maryann Nwako,  Cinthya Pizarro, Ariana Taveras, (Class of 2011) Kai Alexander,  Krystal Burns,  Samantha Frejuste,  Samantha Herrejon,  Milagros Lema, (Class of 2010) Leila Fragiacomo, Imani Greene, Harpreet Kaur,  Ewa Kowalski,  Joyce Mendoza, Sydney Sigue, Jada Yarbough, (Class of 2010)  Eileen Conaty, Toni-Wilson Davis, and the entire Benedictine Staff and Student Community. 

(Photos Courtesy of Jefferson Awards)
(Videos by Michalski)


Benedictine Academy was awarded the prestigious 2012 Jefferson Gold Medal Award for Greatest Public Service by a High School in the entire nation.  Before returning home, we journeyed to the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington DC to give thanks and praise to our Lord and the Blessed Mother.  What did it feel like to receive the Jefferson Gold Medal Award?  What significance does the Jefferson Gold Medal Award have in the educational mission of Benedictine Academy? The following is a glimpse of those intimate moments of prayer sitting before Mary.  As you can see,  the protection and guidance of the Blessed Mother is really the Gold Medal Award in our lives.

My Prayer Reflection:

As Aung San Suukyi's once shared, all the beautiful inspiring words we heard yesterday have been "written in gold on our hearts".   

It is unbelievable that we are here in Washington DC, our Nation’s Capitol.  One always secretly hopes and prays, believing it is possible, yet thinking it is highly improbable that we could be chosen to be awarded the Jefferson Award Gold Medal for Greatest Public Service by a High School.

Our journey with Jefferson Awards is a real Modern day Cinderella Story…. and Students In Action was our Prince Charming.  We lived and taught by Mother Theresa’s words, “Do small things with great love.”   Then Sam Beard came along.  He said, “That’s terrific.  But I want you to Think Big.  Think Global.”  They challenged us to expand our horizons beyond the 12 square miles of Elizabeth to 57 million square miles of our planet.   And they gave us the tools, the framework, and the network of support to do it. 

We live in a world full of violence, prejudice, exploitation, poverty and hunger.   Perhaps the greatest hunger is to be known and to be loved, to be treated with respect and kindness.   It is organically written in the DNA of every human being. Our goal was to start a movement, to ignite our love for humankind, by delivering happiness, one act of kindness at a time.  Everyone could Do Something.  No Zebras, no bystanders, allowed.

The real significance of Jefferson Awards for us is that it changed our reality.  They empowered our entire school to be like the NY Giants, to be ALL IN, for the superbowl of life.   They gave us the hope and the courage to be terrific in a world that is so in need of hope.   They connected us with wisdom people, people like Robert Provost, Maryann Younger and Karen Hatcher, to help us and guide us.  They instilled in our hearts their faith and belief that together, we could paint a new picture of humanity.

What does it mean to be awarded with the Jefferson Awards Gold Medal?  We are so proud and undeserving to stand along side of the great humanitarians last evening, and in the shadows of the great leaders of our planet, people such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, the Kennedy’s, Sam Beard and Robert Taft Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mother Teresa, who have all gone before us.   If we are quiet, we can here God whispering in the silence of our hearts, "Bravo Benedictine Academy, good and faithful servant.  In you, I am well pleased.”   

We give thanks to God and our Blessed Mother Mary for such a privilege and honor and grace.  

15 June, 2012

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Benedictine Academy was blessed to have TEN STUDENTS of our school community receive the Sacraments with our neighboring parish, St. Catherine of Siena.  Padre Aurelio Yanez is a most welcoming Pastor dedicated to building the Kingdom of God.

Bishop Manuel Cruz was the Presider calling down the power of the Holy Spirit and anointing the candidates with their new mission.

Baccalaureate Mass

It was an amazing liturgical celebration as the trumpet blared on the Feast Day of the Visitation, for our dear Graduates, Class of 2012.  The Baccalaureate Mass was celebrated by Father Albert Holtz of St. Benedict's Prep, our  Benedictine brother's school,  at St. Walburga Monastery.  

Father Albert gave a most inspiring homily as he reflected on God's plan for us to be the light of His Love in people's darkness.  

Sister Sharon Mc Hugh, Prioress of the Benedictine Sisters, awarded the highest coveted honor to Graduating Senior, Ariana Taveras, who most exemplified the mission and values of the Benedictine charism.

In a special tribute to our Blessed Mother Mary,  Graduating Senior's, Cinthya, mom beautifully sang the Ave Maria bringing tears to all of our hearts.

18 May, 2012

BA Seniors go to Washington D.C.

The gift of a Senior Class Graduation Trip
to Washington D.C.
was the highlight of their educational experience at
Benedictine Academy. 

"Perhaps the best sight my eyes had seen was the Martin Luther King Jr. monument.  My grandmother had always told me stories about watching him on tv when she was a little girl.  He was such a prominent person in history. When I saw the monument, I cried.  I know that if my great grandmother was alive, she would be so happy to know that I was there."

"I was looking at a giant statue of Abraham Lincoln - the man whose interests weren't necessarily to stop slavery, but to save the union. He believed in the rights of all people, but he also believed in the bigger picture. A country could not properly function if it was going to be divided by those who honored the dignity of the human person and those who did not."
"My trip to Washington D.C. allowed me to see a new side of our world through memorials and museums, but it also helped me understand who I am and where I belonged..."

"Washington D.C. with my senior class was a lovely surprise. The time spent with friends, the conversations that would not have otherwise occurred, and the massive amount of history was a brilliant trifecta from the Washington Memorial to the Holocaust Museum, two of my favorites... I would have loved to go into the Library of Congress and spent days in the Newseum. It was awesome." 

"Thank you MR. DONOR.  It was definitely the most memorable and amazing experience that we will treasure always!  Our only hope is that the other classes will get the same opportunity as we did." Graduating Class of 2012


We are proud to announce that Benedictine Academy had been selected by the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation to receive the first Douglass Freedom Partner Award.  The Award was presented by Ken Morris, Jr., the great great great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great great grandson of Booker T. Washington, to the BA Advisory Board of Trustees via Skype this past Monday evening. 

Ms. Cindy Readlinger, the Chair of the Advisory Board of Trustees, briefly introduced the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation.

"Established to preserve the legacy of Frederick Douglass and to newly create an awareness about modern day slavery, their mission is to end human trafficking and all forms of servitude with a clear effort to restore the dignity and well-being of its victims... 

We are so proud of our students and their achievements and thank you (Mr. Morris) for the opportunity they have had to participate in your mission by raising consciousness about the evil of human trafficking."

Mr. Ken Morris announced that they had met with Mayor Bloomberg and were bringing their Human Trafficking Service Learning Curriculum to the New York City Public Schools. Frederick Douglass Family Foundation would use Benedictine Academy as their Model School "Everything the students, teachers and Administrators have done is incredible.  Thank you all very much for the hard work you have done and for being such a great inspiration to us at the Foundation."

The Honorable Mayor J. Christian Bollwage
presented the Freedom Partner Award plaque to Ken Jennings, our Principal and Honorable Assemblyman Joseph Cryan presented the letter from Nettie Washington Douglass to Sister Germaine Fritz, OSB, President of Benedictine Academy.  Also present for this momentous occasion was Ms. Rowena Madden, the Executive Director of Governor Christie's Volunteer Service Department. 

Crowning of Mary

In the month of May, we honor and celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary with the crowning and praying of the rosary in classes.  This special devotion can be attributed to the Jesuits in the late 1700's, while the praying of the rosary  can be traced back to St. Dominic in the 12th century.

Today, we gathered as one sacred community to crown Mary with a beautiful wreath of roses and pray a Litany asking for her intercession

Scott P. Richard explains, "... during the Marian month of May, we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for her protection and for the grace to imitate her in her love of Christ, and Christ in His love of her.  As the Mother of Christ, she is our mother, too, and we look to her for guidance." 

Mary gives us little stones to help us experience a conversion of heart and help us grow closer to God through prayer:
                                             1. Prayer with the heart: Rosary
2. Eucharist
3. Holy Bible
4. Fasting
5. Monthly Confession

When the Blessed Mother appeared in Medjugorje, she said:
"If you knew how much I love you, you'd cry of joy!"

12 May, 2012


It was an amazing afternoon at the Newark Museum for Benedictine Academy who was awarded with three (3) New Jersey Governor's Jefferson Awards for outstanding community service leadership.  Celebrating New Jersey's next generation of community leaders and volunteer service organizers,
Benedictine Academy, along with twenty-five other schools, groups and individuals, were recognized by the Community Foundation of New Jersey (in partnership with the Star Ledger, Governor's Office on Volunteerism, and the Jefferson Awards Students In Action) for their leadership in volunteerism in the categories of Citizenship, Peace & Justice, and Community Improvement.  

Our accomplished young ladies, proudly stood among other well-known schools such as Peck, Governor Livingston High School, and St. Joseph's Regional High School. 

Benedictine Academy's Globe Changers won an award for their dedicated work as Modern Day Abolitionists in fighting to eradicate human trafficking;

the JTB Club was recognized for their successful advocacy in changing the outdated Good Samaritan Law regarding the use of defibrillators;

and the entire Benedictine Academy Service Clubs were honored for their volunteer leadership efforts in Delivering Happiness to the local and global communities by helping those in need.

 "Did you ever wonder who signed these awards?", asked Rowena Madden of the Governor's Office on Volunteerism.  Take a peak :) :

 A special thanks to Ms. Karen Hatcher, NJ Regional Director of Volunteer Service Leadership of the Community Foundation and Jefferson Awards Students In Action.  Her boundless energy and guidance are both an inspiration and support in empowering our students to be instruments of change in our world.

07 May, 2012


Sister Lauren recently attended the Pro-Life Rally at Seton Hall University with our Pro-Life Club.  It was an informative, motivational event that gives the youth a chance to speak up for the unborn.

 Filled with prayer, music, visual aid, and personal stories, the rally created an atmosphere filled with only reality and truth. It was an amazing event that the BA girls enjoyed and will surely not forget.  

Martha Devia, a Junior student, won an Award for her outstanding work in protecting the dignity and life of the unborn child.  At Benedictine Academy, we believe that every person, including the unborn child, has human dignity and inherent value.

06 May, 2012



For Release: Immediate
Friday, May 04, 2012
Contact: Alise Roderer
(609) 847-3700


Legislation Removes Civil Liability for Using Automated External Defibrillators

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Bob Gordon that protects from civil liability good Samaritans who use an automated external defibrillator while attempting to save someone’s life was signed into law yesterday.

“The moments after a sudden cardiac arrest can make the difference between life and death,” said Senator Vitale, (D-Middlesex) Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “If defibrillation is administered via an AED, a person’s likelihood of surviving a cardiac episode increases dramatically. We need to make sure that the law recognizes the life-saving potential of these devices and shield good Samaritans from lawsuits should they malfunction or if, even with the good faith efforts to revive someone, the person dies.”

The law, S-852, eliminates language in state statute that requires a person using an automated external defibrillator (AED) to have received training in both CPR and the usage of the AED. The law reduces requirements that entities require CPR and AED training for all people who might use the AED to just the people most likely to use the device.

This law is in direct response to feedback from the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation whose mission is make sure that an AED is available near all public assemblies."

A SPECIAL THANKS TO ASSEMBLYMAN JOE CRYAN, HIS ASSISTANT DAVE JENKINS,  JOANNE AND DAVE BABBITT, AND MARIAN JOYCE .  We are grateful for the privilege and honor to walk along side all of you, to learn from you, and to experience the power of voices who care to make our world a better place.  Campus Ministry JTB CLUB.  


The Senior Class of 2012 retreated to Stella Maris Retreat Center in Long Branch this week.  It was a day full of blessings and surprises as they enjoyed the gift of friendship, the love of God, and the beauty of the ocean breeze on the beach.  


They prayed together, played together, ate together, cried together, laughed together, and experienced Jesus in their midst.  It was the culmination of four years from whence they entered the hallways at Benedictine Academy as strangers and now were leaving as sisters.  

05 May, 2012


Today's psalm touches our hearts deeply, "You are my son (daughter); this day I have begotten you."  Psalm 2:6-11 

This is an awesome thought.  Today.  At this very moment, we know in no uncertain terms that God declares that we belong totally to Him.  He is our loving Father.  And there is a place for us, our own room, in His mansion of a home in heaven.

We were blessed to welcome Father Edwin Leahy, Headmaster of St. Benedict's Prep, preside at our Celebration of Liturgy at the St. Walburga Monastery Chapel.  

At Benedictine Academy, we believe Prayer and Eucharist lead to spiritual fulfillment.  A senior student explains, "When we take time out of our busy schedules to go to church to pray, I feel so much better...  To come before the real body and blood of Jesus Christ Himself in the Eucharist, I can only bow down and pray."   AMEN.            

19 April, 2012


Share This:
    Dear Benedictine Academy,
Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that three of your youth service projects , Delivering Happiness, Globe Changers Modern Day Abolition, and JTB Club "Good Samaritan Law" have been selected to receive a
2012 New Jersey Youth Jefferson Award in the Youth Service category.
Please share this letter with the student(s) whose work was selected.
This project was selected from a number of really outstanding entries submitted in this year's NJ Make Service Count Challenge. The judges were impressed with the creativity and contribution young people are making
 in their communities, schools, state and world.
We would like to publicly honor those involved in this project at a special Awards Event taking place on:
Saturday, May 12, 2012 from 12:30-2:30PM at The Newark Museum, 49 Washington St., Newark, NJ

01 April, 2012

The Passion of the Lord

This morning as I was listening to the Passion of our Lord, I could not help but be reminded of the young girls and women, victims of human trafficking, our BA Globe Changers heard tell their story this past Friday at the Polaris Workshop. 

"They began to spit on him (her). They blindfolded him (her) and struck him (her) ... they bound him(her), led him(her) away and handed him(her) over... "

"What evil has Jesus (she) done?"

"They only shouted the louder... they mocked him (her) and stripped him (her) and led him (her) out to crucify him (her)"

"Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani!"  ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!")


A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (50:7) provides us with our hope:

"The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced. I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame."  The Word of the Lord.

30 March, 2012


We are pleased and proud to announce the Students in Action of NJ High School Awards for 2012!  The top point* scoring school will represent New Jersey in the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony and compete for the national title in Washington D.C. June 18-20, 2012.

Gold Banner and Top Scoring School in New Jersey  
Benedictine Academy, Elizabeth, NJ:       99.5 points  
(This represents Benedictine Academy's second year as top school, qualifying them to move up to the Ambassador level of national competition next year.  Congratulations!)

Washington Township High School, Sewel, NJ:    88 points
Middletown High School North, Middletown, NJ:    68 points
Woodstown High School, Woodstown, NJ:    68 points
Rising Star Academy, Union City, NJ:    56.5 points
Deptford High School, Deptford, NJ:    39.5 points

A year of committed service and leadership. The world is changed by their efforts. 
We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our Lord through Compassionate Action.  At Benedictine Academy, we believe that we have a personal responsibility to act justly in making our world a better place.  It is a privilege and God's grace.  How awesome is that!