Bendictine Academy Holds Graduation For 97th Class

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Benedictine Academy Class of 2012 Valedictorian Dinh Do (left) and Salutatorian Andrea Mendoza (right), both of Union. Do will attend the University of Notre Dame, and Mendoza will head to Rutgers University in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

Benedictine Academy Class of 2012 Valedictorian Dinh Do (left) and Salutatorian Andrea Mendoza (right), both of Union. Do will attend the University of Notre Dame, and Mendoza will head to Rutgers University in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

UNION—Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth held commencement ceremonies for its 97th graduating class Sunday, June 3. Members of the Class of 2012 are headed for Notre Dame, NYU, Rutgers and other prestigious 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 2012 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 1962, 1987 and 2002 on the celebration of their 50th, 25th and 10th anniversaries of graduation from the Academy.

This year’s graduating class of 36 earned over $5.3 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 Andrea Mendoza, who is bound for Rutgers University, welcomed those gathered.

Valedictorian Dinh Do, who will attend the University of Notre Dame next fall, delivered the farewell address. Do and Mendoza are members of the National Honor Society. Other BA Class of 2012 graduates who achieved National Honor Society status are Dannah Laguitan, Cinthya Pizarro, Vanessa Rodriguez, Crismeldy Segura, and Ariana Taveras. Graduate Abieyuwa Omokaro was recognized as a College Board Advanced Placement Scholar. Ariana Taveras was honored 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 Taveras at a Baccalaureate Mass held in the Benedictine Sisters’ St. Walburga Monastery on May 31.

The keynote commencement speaker was Retired NJ Supreme Court Justice Virginia A. Long, Benedictine Academy Class of 1959. Rev. Armand Mantia, Pastor of Holy Spirit Church, gave the Invocation. Academy President Sister Germaine Fritz, along with Cynthia Readlinger, Class of ’69 and 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 2012 graduates Makeba Green and Abieyuwa Omakaro. Following Benediction by Sister Sharon McHugh, the commencement ceremony closed with the singing of the Benedictine Academy Alma Mater, led by Class of 2012 graduates Brittany Henderson and Alyssia Hudson.

Graduates of Benedictine Academy earned numerous academic awards from their school this year. “Highest Achievement” Awards were conferred upon the following graduates: Jessica Acevedo- Pre-Calculus; Caroline Antonio- AP Spanish; Cheila Cardoso- Public Speaking; Jennifer Cobo- Computer and Economics; DeAzah Davis- British Literature, Physical Education/Health, and Public Speaking; Dinh Do- AP Calculus, AP English Literature, AP Psychology, Physics, and Religion; Dannah Laguitan- Physics; Andrea Mendoza- Geography and Honors-Pre-Calculus; Vanessa Rodriguez- Physical Education/Health; and Daniella Travesso- Psychology.

“Second Highest Achievement” recognition was awarded in the following subjects: Deaasha Acquah-Abbiw- Computer; Caroline Antonio- Public Speaking; Cheila Cardoso- Pre-Calculus; DeAzah Davis- Geography; Dinh Do- Physical Education/Health; Alyssia Hudson- Physical Education/Health; Elorie Jean- Economics; Dannah Laguitan- AP Calculus and Religion; Andrea Mendoza- AP Psychology and Religion; Vanessa Rodriguez- Honors Pre-Calculus and Public Speaking; and Ariana Taveras- AP English Literature and AP Spanish.
The Honorable (Elizabeth Mayor) J. Christian Bollwage Public Speaking Award, in recognition of outstanding oratorical skills, was given to Dannah Laguitan. Dinh Do, the class valedictorian, won the Brother Ralph Darmento Educational Leadership Award, presented to a senior whose intellectual gifts will make her an outstanding leader in the future. And, Ariana Taveras was honored with the Gregory Arner Architectural Award, presented to a senior whose artistic vision will inspire the future with a love for the arts. Andrea Mendoza was recognized as a “Scholar/Athlete”, an award given last month by the Union County Interscholastic Scholarship Conference. Brittany Henderson was recognized as the recipient of the 2012 Governor’s Award in Arts Education- for Excellence in Jazz, which she received last month in Trenton.

The complete list of Benedictine Academy 2012 graduates is: Jennifer Abbondante of Union; Jessica Acevedo, Deaasha Acquah-Abbiw, and Stephanie Anibal, all of Elizabeth; Caroline Antonio of Newark; Aiesha Burgess of East Orange; Cheila Cardosa of Hillside; Rosebriar Chelot of Elizabeth; Jennifer Cobo of Hillside; Ana Cunha of Newark; DeAzah Davis of Rahway; Dinh Do of Union; Chloe Easton of Newark; Imanee Ford of Union; Cassandra Francois of Roselle; Khiara Gonzaga of Hillside; Makeba Green and Brittany Henderson, both of Newark; Alyssia Hudson and Elorie Jean, both of Irvington; Kulvinder Kaur and Simarjit Kaur, both of Hillside; Mehek Kulsoom of Newark; Dannah Laguitan of Colonia; Kimberly Lawton and Shahnushka Luxeus, both of Elizabeth; Andrea Mendoza of Union; Angela Ngei of Elizabeth; Maryann Nwako of Union; Abieyuwa Omokaro of Hillside; Cinthya Pizarro of Elizabeth; Vanessa Rodriguez of Roselle; Crismeldy Segura, Morganna Silva, and Ariana Taveras, all of Newark; and Daniella Travesso of Irvington.

Ariana Taveras, winner of the 2012 Benedictine Academy St. Scholastica Award, given to the student who most exemplifies the virtues of the Benedictine way of life. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

The Honorable Virginia A. Long (at pulpit), retired NJ Supreme Court Justice, delivered the keynote speech at Benedictine Academy’s 97th graduation ceremony on June 3. Long is a 1959 graduate of the Academy. The commencement was held at Holy Spirit R.C. Church in Union. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

“I am proud to introduce Benedictine Academy’s 97th class of graduates…” declared Principal Kenneth Jennings, as the thirty-six young women turned to face guests at Holy Spirit Church in Union at the Academy’s commencement ceremony on June 3. Proud family members, friends, faculty, administrators and others filled the pews, applauding the beaming Class of 2012 as they flipped their graduation cap tassels from left to right. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)


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