Benedictine Academy Students Honored For Community Commitment

ELIZABETH–Five Benedictine Academy students were honored recently as “Students in Action”, for “taking their initiative beyond the ordinary”. Emilie Burke of Colonia, Martha Devia of Elizabeth, Chisom Emeana of Hillside, Andrea Mendoza of Union, and Ariana Taveras of Newark, were recognized at an awards ceremony held at the Academy on Feb. 11.

“These students have given their time and compassionate hearts to help save lives and make our communities a better place,” Benedictine Academy Campus Minister Linda Michalski stated as she introduced the group.


The “Students in Action” Club at Benedictine Academy continues to recognize the exceptional work by students. In November, the first “Student in Action” Jefferson Award was presented. Former NBA basketball great Darryl Dawkins visited the Academy at that time to help initiate the “Students in Action”/Jefferson Award program. The former hoops star presented the school’s first “Unsung Hero Award” to sophomore Barbara Borges for her “quiet”, yet “extraordinary” service to community members in need, making bracelets for people with cancer.

The following students were recognized in February:

Chisom Emeana worked hard to begin a CPR training program at Benedictine Academy for students and staff. Contacting Newark Beth Israel Hospital, Emeana arranged for a team to come to Benedictine Academy on February 17 to conduct a workshop for certification in CPR, AED & First Aid for all interested staff and students. Emeana, also realizing the importance of having a defibrillator available on premises, is currently working with her school to develop an emergency medical plan in order to apply for a grant to help purchase the life-saving device.

“In the blink of an eye, your life can change”, reflects Chisom, a senior “Student in Action” leader. Emeana is “determined to take action in strengthening schools’ responses to cardiac arrest,” Michalski commented. “Her leadership initiative is in response to the awareness that lives are at stake and strong safety precautions can make a difference,” she added.

Junior classmates Ariana Taveras and Andrea Mendoza have been working diligently on a new anti-bullying program for the academy and other schools in nearby communities. Taveras and Mendoza organized a Peer Mediation Training Workshop, held in January for the Academy’s “Peace & Justice Club” students. They are currently working with the Academy’s administration to put a school peer mediation/anti-bullying action plan in place. “Their leadership initiative is in response to the Benedictine Academy belief that every person deserves respect & human dignity,” Michalski noted.

Sophomore Martha Devia works several evenings and weekends, every week, both as a leader and an assistant to help young people as part of various parish youth programs. She lends a listening ear and guidance in providing support and friendship for struggling young people. “Her dedication and kind heart are unwavering in her drive to lend a helping hand and make a difference in another’s life,” Michalski said. “Martha follows in the footsteps of Mother Teresa in doing small things with great love. She is a true Unsung Hero,” Michalski pointed out.

Emilie Burke, a senior, has relentless energy, which inspired her to take the initiative and answer the call to orchestrate a Blood Drive at Benedictine Academy. The local blood center needed 250 people to donate blood each day to meet the needs of the local communities. For every pint of blood donated there is a potential to save three lives. Burke’s enthusiasm resulted in many students, faculty and staff participating in the blood drive. In addition to saving lives, Burke also volunteers her time and talents in endless ways to the Junior Statesmen of America Association service projects. “Her leadership initiative lies in a strong inner determination to be the best that God calls us to be,” Michalski noted.

The Awards ceremony concluded with Michalski sharing a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking about “service”…“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Michalski encouraged all students at the Academy to serve, saying, “All of us in the room here today can be great…because every soul in this room is generated by the love of God. My hope is that every student here receives a Jefferson “Student in Action” Award at one time during their four years at BA”.

Students at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth were honored recently for “taking their initiative beyond the ordinary”. Honored as “Students in Action” were (l-r) Emilie Burke of Colonia, Andrea Mendoza of Union, Ariana Taveras of Newark, and Martha Devia of Elizabeth. They were recognized along with fellow student Chisom Emeana of Hillside (missing from photo) at an awards ceremony held at the Academy on February 11.

A blood drive organized by Benedictine Academy senior Emilie Burke of Colonia helped her earn the “Student in Action” recognition she received on Feb. 11.
Burke was recognized at a “Student in Action” awards ceremony held at the Academy on Feb. 11. Pictured is Stephanie Vaz of Newark, a senior at the Academy, donating blood to help save lives.

A CPR training given by Newark Beth Israel Hospital on February 17 at Benedictine Academy was organized by student Chisom Emeana of Hillside. Pictured is Academy Principal Kenneth Jennings (kneeling, left), learning the life-saving technique. Students and staff voluntarily participated in the training to become certified in CPR, AED and First Aid. Emeana earned a “Student in Action” award for her efforts.

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