ELIZABETH—The students of Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth have been recognized in numerous ways for their commitment to “delivering happiness” to many in their school and in the community. Now, they have been tapped to be included in a mini-documentary produced by “Delivering Happiness” (DH), the organization/movement created to spread and inspire more happiness in the world.
The film will be used as part of an internal lecture/workshop series to be created by the DH organization, which grew out of the publication in 2010 of the book “Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose,” written by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. The book, the first written by Hsieh, who is a Harvard graduate, flew to the top of bestseller lists offering sage business advice coupled with the belief that happiness can be used as a model both in business and in life.
As an organization that originated with a vision to motivate people in all arenas of life to be happy, “Delivering Happiness” works to inspire happiness in work, community, and everyday living. The company strives to “educate and empower people to create more happiness”; to “connect like-minded people to a community”; and to “create meaningful experiences in peoples’ lives”.
Benedictine Academy has adopted and built on that vision with a large degree of success, as evidenced by the school being named the Gold Medal winner of the National Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2012, which is considered the Nobel Prize for Public Service. And so, it was an exciting day in late November when a film crew from “Delivering Happiness” spent a day at Benedictine Academy, capturing firsthand the essence of what compels the students at the all-female Catholic college prep high school to do the kind and compassionate things they do.
“A little over a year ago, we read the Zappos’ book, ‘Delivering Happiness, a Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose,’ by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh,” Benedictine Academy Campus Minister Linda Michalski explained, “and as they say, the rest is history. We were inspired and began to inspire our students and staff to begin to live our Mission Statement and culture in a new way – the ‘Delivering Happiness’ way,” Michalski continued.
“We were already living for a higher purpose by serving others,” she noted. “The results were not surprising; helping others and going beyond the expected, made others happy and it made us happy in return, one hundred fold,” Michalski stated. “We were, as ‘Delivering Happiness’ CEO Jenn Lim said, ‘nudging our world to a better place’ one kindness at a time and it turned into a movement…one that led us to winning the National Jefferson Award Gold Medal for best high school in the country for public volunteer service,” Michalski pointed out.
The Delivering Happiness film crew spent the day at Benedictine Academy interviewing students and staff, filming their day in classes, at lunch and while preparing for a school-wide Students-in-Action awards ceremony. At the ceremony, selected students and staff who went beyond the ordinary to show extreme kindness were recognized and given a WOW experience as “Unsung Heroes” at the school.
The “Unsung Heroes” included junior student Aaliyah Hill-Grevious, who showed compassion when she halted her run during a Championship track meet on Oct. 24 to help an injured runner from another school. The student, from Union High School, was bleeding from the mouth and muddied. Hill-Grevious was acknowledged as “an outstanding humanitarian”. This was actually the second time the Benedictine Academy Track team thought of another rather than their own success- a similar incident occurred last year.
Each month, Benedictine Academy celebrates students and staff who have been inspired to perform outstanding public service and have inspired others to follow their example. Other “Unsung Heroes” – ordinary people doing extraordinary things- were honored at the SIA Awards ceremony and filmed by “Delivering Happiness”. Students Karen Thompson, Laura Gomez, and Marielis Vazquez, of the Academy’s Brazilian and Portuguese-American Club, were recognized, along with their Moderator Luisa Rodriguez. Their club’s annual school-wide Cancer Walk in October raised nearly $2000 in donations. “Everyone’s hearts at BA were so generous in giving and participating in this most worthy cause,” Michalski commented.
Also honored were students Kayla Roque, Marina Santiago and Karina Costa, who as members of the school’s Teen Hunger Council and the Sophomore Student Council, worked together to make a Hunger Awareness video to help raise money among the Sophomore Class for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Their moderators, Andrea Banks-Suggs and Ashley Powell, were also recognized for their great efforts.
Michalski noted that, “It has been said that the best leaders are servant leaders. These are not our only angels. Families of over fifty-five of our students, and staff members of our BA community, magnanimously opened the doors of their homes to neighbors, family and friends without heat, shared their food, cooked for others, lent generators, shared their gas, and made donations of their time and money during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. At Benedictine Academy, we are proud and grateful to each of our students, their families, and people in the communities for delivering happiness to others during this time of crisis.”
Each student whose family helped in this way received a Gratitude Bag prepared by the Students in Action Leadership Team.
It was an exciting day in late November when a film crew from “Delivering Happiness” spent a day at Benedictine Academy, capturing firsthand the essence of what compels the students at the all-female Catholic college prep high school to do the kind and compassionate things they do. The film crew spent the day interviewing students and staff, and, filming their day in classes, at lunch and while preparing for a school-wide Students-in-Action awards ceremony. The film crew (pictured) filmed Benedictine Academy students (clockwise, l-r) Vanessa Fragiacomo of Kearny, Kayla Roque and Marina Santiago, both of Newark, Eileen Conaty of Clark, Ewa Kowalczyk of Elizabeth and Karina Costa of Hillside, making gift bags for those in need. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)
Students from Benedictine Academy gathered to thank all at “Delivering Happiness”. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)
Each month, Benedictine Academy celebrates students and staff who have been inspired to perform outstanding public service and have moved others to follow their example. Those “Unsung Heroes” – ordinary people doing extraordinary things- were honored at the school’s Students in Action (SIA) Awards ceremony in late November and filmed by “Delivering Happiness”. Seated (with crowns on heads) are (l-r) student Marina Santiago of Newark, faculty member Ashley Powell, and students Karina Costa of Hillside and Kayla Roque of Newark, who as members (and moderator) of the school’s Teen Hunger Council and the Sophomore Student Council, worked together to make a Hunger Awareness video to help raise money among the Sophomore Class for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Creating the WOW moment for those honored are (standing-l-r): students Mary Palma of Union, Nathalie Barillas of Newark, Eileen Conaty of Clark, and, at podium, Anglin Thevarajah of Irvington. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)
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