Elizabeth School Recognized By Jefferson Award Program

ELIZABETH–For a second year in a row, Benedictine Academy, the all-female Catholic college prep high school in Elizabeth, has won the prestigious Gold Medal Banner for the “Jefferson Award” Regional Competition for the state of New Jersey. The students achieved first place for their student service leadership efforts in their school and in the community.

The Academy’s Students in Action Team captured the Gold Medal Banner while participating in the “Jefferson Award” spring Northern NJ regional competition held at the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station on March 27. “Jefferson Awards for Public Service”, created in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, are considered the “Nobel Prize” for public and community service in America.

Benedictine Academy scored 99.5 points out of a possible one hundred, and, as the top-point-scoring school in the state, will represent New Jersey in the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony and compete for the national title in Washington, D.C. June 18-20. The Gold Award represents Benedictine Academy’s second year as top school in the regional competition, qualifying the school to move up to the Ambassador level of national competition next year.

During the regional competition, Benedictine Academy was evaluated by a panel of judges from United Way, Verizon, and several colleges for their oratory and presentation skills, as well as outstanding service leadership efforts in serving the local and global communities. The school’s Student in Action Team shared their many volunteer service leadership experiences while at the competition. This included their determined and persistent efforts to combat child slave labor by bringing awareness of the horrors of human trafficking to many, children and adults alike.

“It has been a year of committed service and leadership,” Linda Michalski, Benedictine Academy Campus Minister and mentor to the Students in Action team commented. “The world is changed by their efforts,” she added. “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.”

Benedictine Academy Principal Kenneth Jennings offered his congratulations to faculty members Michalski, who was last year’s Jefferson Award “Mentor of the Year”, and to Ashley Powell, and their team of Students in Action. “The student presentation on Tuesday, March 27 at the College of St. Elizabeth dazzled the judges who stated that our SIA Team displayed ‘passion, poise, and purpose’ in their adroit presentation,” Jennings noted. “Our excellent score should make us very competitive in the National Awards Competition in Washington, D.C. in June,” Jennings stated.

Selected in 2010 as an official “Jefferson Awards Service Leadership School”, the Academy was the first of any New Jersey school to join Students in Action. There are now 450 “Jefferson Awards Service Leadership Schools” serving as role models for other schools across the nation to emulate. Each school’s faculty leadership and student volunteers are helping pass the tradition of voluntary service to future generations, while promoting a culture of volunteerism, youth ethics and leadership.

Benedictine Academy students with Jefferson Gold Medal Banner captured at the College of St. Elizabeth on March 27 during the Northern New Jersey Regional Competition. Pictured with students are: front row, far left- Academy President Sister Germaine Fritz, OSB, and Academy Campus Minister Linda Michalski, and, on right, Academy Principal Kenneth Jennings, Director of Guidance Sister Donna Jo Repetti, OSF, and faculty member Ashley Powell.

Students from Benedictine Academy traveled to the United Nations in March to attend a conference on Human Trafficking. The students reported on their diligent work in this area at the Jefferson Award competition held March 27, earning them a top score in competition, and ultimately, the Jefferson Gold Medal Banner. Pictured (l-r) are Academy Campus Minister Linda Michalski; students Ewa Kowalczyk of Elizabeth; Andrea Mendoza of Union; Ariana Taveras of Newark; Cinthya Pizarro of Elizabeth; Eileen Conaty of Clark; Dannah Laguitan of Woodbridge; Caroline Antonio and Mehek Kulsoon, both of Newark; Guidance Director Sister Donna Jo Repetti, OSF; and student Mary Ann Nwako of Union. (Photos courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

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