Benedictine Academy Students Receive Diplomas

Salutatorian Alicia Onacki and Valedictorian Geraline Arroyo

ELIZABETH—Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth held commencement ceremonies for its 96th graduating class Sunday, June 5. Members of the Class of 2011 are headed for Princeton, NYU, Rutgers and many other colleges and universities.

Proud family members, friends, faculty, administrators and others filled the pews of Holy Spirit Church in Union, applauding the beaming Class of 2011 as they flipped their graduation cap tassels from left to right. The graduates were presented by Assistant Principal Andrea Banks-Suggs to Academy President Sister Germaine Fritz, OSB ’54, who conferred their diplomas. Principal Kenneth Jennings announced academic awards and also acknowledged the Classes of 1986 and 1961 on the celebration of their silver (25th) and golden (50th) anniversaries of graduation from the Academy.


This year’s graduating class of 42 earned over $4.5 million in academic scholarships, as noted by Benedictine Academy Director of Guidance Sister Donna Jo Repetti, OSF, who read out the individual accomplishments of each graduate.

Salutatorian Alicia Onacki, who is bound for Felician College (NJ), welcomed those gathered. Valedictorian Geraline Arroyo, who will attend Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences next fall, delivered the farewell address. Arroyo and Onacki are members of the National Honor Society.

Other BA Class of 2011 graduates who achieved National Honor Society status are Emilie Burke, Stefanie Eller, Chisom Emeana, Megan Hely, Haneah Jackson, Chelsea Odufu, and Sara Pereira. Graduate Ludmilla Perez was recognized as the recipient of the distinctive St. Scholastica Award, which is given to the student who most exemplifies the virtues of the Benedictine way of life. Sister Sharon McHugh, OSB ’67, Prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth, presented the award to Perez at the previous evening’s Baccalaureate Mass held in the Benedictine Sisters’ St. Walburga Monastery.

The keynote commencement speaker was Benedictine Academy Faculty member Angelo Raimondi. Rev. Armand Mantia, Pastor of Holy Spirit Church (Union), gave the Invocation. Academy President Sister Germaine Fritz, along with Cynthia Readlinger, Class of ‘69, Chairperson of the Academy’s Advisory Board of Trustees, delivered moving messages and offered wise words to the graduates to carry with them as they continue their journey. Poetry was read by 2011 graduates Chisom Emeana and Keyona Wright. The commencement ceremony closed following the singing of the Alma Mater, led by Class of 2011 graduates Mecca McDonald and Keyona Wright.

Graduates of Benedictine Academy earned numerous academic awards from their school this year. “Highest Achievement” Awards were conferred upon the following graduates: AP English Literature and AP Psychology- Geraline Arroyo; AP Spanish- Ludmilla Perez; Anatomy & Physiology- Chisom Emeana; British Literature- Vida Quaye and Alyssa Collins; Ceramics- Carolline Pena; Contemporary Literature- Megan Hely; Contemporary World- Geraline Arroyo; Design- Chelsea Odufu; Environmental Science- Ashanti Sharp; French- Haneah Jackson; Honors Pre-Calculus- Geraline Arroyo; Mixed Media- Keyona Wright; Physical Education & Health- Jessica Silva and Stefanie Eller; Photo Art- Stephanie Vaz; Physics- Geraline Arroyo; and Public Speaking- Emily Gonzalez.

“Second Highest Achievement” recognition was awarded in the following subjects: AP English Literature- Megan Hely; AP Psychology- Chisom Emeana; AP Spanish- Paola Leguizamo; Anatomy & Physiology- Janell Fontaine and Alicia Onacki; British Literature- Jessica Silva; Ceramics- Ludmilla Perez; Contemporary World- Sara Pereira; Design- Cynthia Amaya; Environmental Science- Kunjan Rajput; French- Arielle Figueredo; Honors Pre-Calculus- Sara Pereira; Mixed Media- Jessica Feliciano; Physical Education & Health- Stephanie Vaz and Geraline Arroyo; Photo Art-Michelle Baptista; Pre-Calculus- Stephanie Vaz; and Public Speaking- Stefanie Eller.

The “Honorable J. Christian Bollwage Public Speaking Award”, in recognition of outstanding oratorical skills, was given to Emilie Burke and Chisom Emeana. Burke, who will attend Princeton University next fall, won many awards while debating as a member of the Junior State of America Club. Emeana, who will attend Rutgers University, also demonstrated much skill as a public speaker during her years at Benedictine Academy. Geraline Arroyo, the class valedictorian, won the “Brother Ralph Darmento Educational Leadership Award”. And, Chelsea Odufu was honored with the “Gregory Arner Architectural Award”. The Benedictine Academy “Athlete of the Year” Award went to Haneah Jackson. Jackson was also recognized as a “Scholar/Athlete” by the U.S. Army.

Graduates of Benedictine Academy’s Class of 2011 were accepted into schools of higher education including: Adelphi University; Boston College; Boston University; College of St. Elizabeth; Delaware State University; Drew University; Drexel University; Duke University; Fairleigh Dickinson University; Felician College; Fordham University; Johns Hopkins University; Kean University; Manhattan College; Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Montclair State University; New York University- Tisch School of the Arts; Northwestern University; Pace University; Penn State University; Pratt Institute of the Arts; Princeton University; Rider University; Rutgers University; Sarah Lawrence College; St. John’s University; St. Peter’s College; Seton Hall University; Siena College; Temple University; The American Musical and Dramatic Academy; The King’s College; Tufts University; University of Maryland; Westminster College, and many others.

The complete list of Benedictine Academy 2011 graduates is: Cynthia Amaya of Hillside; Geraline Arroyo of Union; Michelle Baptista of Elizabeth; Marjorie Bukiron of Elizabeth; Emilie Burke of Colonia; Alyssa Collins of Newark; Ashlee Daye of Plainfield; Alexandra DePena of Union; Stefanie Eller of Hillside; Chisom Emeana of Hillside; Jessica Feliciano of Elizabeth; Arielle Figueredo of Union; Janell Fontaine of Plainfield; Emily Gonzalez of Elizabeth; Megan Hely of Union; Haneah Jackson of Hillside; Paola Leguizamo of Elizabeth; Taylor Marion of Plainfield; Mecca McDonald of Roselle; Ashley McDowell of Maplewood; Natasha Milette of Newark; Chelsea Odufu of Newark; Alicia Onacki of Roselle; Christie Paredinha of Hillside; Tawanda Peebles of Newark; Carolline Pena of Hillside; Sara Pereira of Elizabeth; Jessica Perez of Newark; Ludmilla Perez of Elizabeth; Angelica Prendez of Elizabeth; Vida Quaye of Elizabeth; Kunjan Rajput of Elizabeth; Karina Rocha of Newark; Ashanti Sharp of Orange; Jessica Silva of Elizabeth; Stephanie Vaz of Newark; Isalis Vazquez of Elizabeth; Tyje Williams of Roselle; Janee Wilson of Hillside; Keyona Wright of Elizabeth; Myia Young of Elizabeth; and Diosanalee Zurita of Roselle.

Ludmilla Perez, winner of the St. Scholastica award

(Photos courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

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