Benedictine Academy Held 98th Graduation Ceremony

ELIZABETH—Benedictine Academy held commencement ceremonies for its 98th graduating class on Saturday, June 1.

Proud family members, friends, faculty, administrators and others filled the pews of Holy Spirit Church in Union, applauding the beaming Class of 2013 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 1963, 1988 and 2003 on the celebration of their 50th, 25th and 10th anniversaries of graduation from the all-female Catholic college-prep high school.

Co-Salutatorians Heidi Isabel and Martha Devia welcomed those gathered. Valedictorian Michelle Colonia delivered the farewell address. Colonia, Devia and Isabel are members of the National Honor Society. Other BA Class of 2013 graduates who achieved National Honor Society status are Kai Alexander; Tabitha Davis; Norky Diaz; Shervonne Gittens; Samantha Herrejon; and Anglin Thevarajah. Martha Devia 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 Devia at a Baccalaureate Mass held in the Benedictine Sisters’ St. Walburga Monastery on May 30.

Graduates of Benedictine Academy earned numerous academic awards from their school this year. “Highest Achievement” Awards were conferred upon the following graduates: Kai Alexander- AP English Literature; Honors Pre-Calculus; Mythology; and Spanish; Kelly Amorim- Contemporary World History; Nylah Daniels- Criminal Justice; Martha Devia- Anatomy & Physiology; British Literature; Physical Education/Health; Pre-Calculus; Public Speaking; Religion;
Samantha Frejuste- Public Speaking; Shervonne Gittens- AP Psychology; Physical Education/Health; Jessica Salermo- Pre-Calculus; Julissa Salermo- Pre-Calculus; Saleemah Sharpe- Intermediate Algebra; and Anglin Thevarajah- Health Care.

“Second Highest Achievement” Awards went to: Kai Alexander- AP Psychology; Religion; Kelly Amorim- Mythology; Gabriella Soto Badillo- Anatomy & Physiology; Barbara Borges- Public Speaking; Krystal Burns- Health Care; Nicole Carvalho- Physical Education/Health; Pre-Calculus; Michelle Colonia- AP English Literature; Honors Pre-Calculus; Physical Education/Health; Tabitha Davis- Anatomy & Physiology; Norky Diaz- Mythology; Samantha Herrejon- Spanish; Julissa Salermo- British Literature; Contemporary World History; Public Speaking; Anglin Thevarajah-Criminal Justice; Beatrice Thompson-Quartey- Anatomy & Physiology.

The Honorable (Elizabeth Mayor) J. Christian Bollwage Public Speaking Award, in recognition of outstanding oratorical skills, was given to Samantha Frejuste. Shervonne Gittens, 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, Saleemah Sharpe 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. The Alice T. White Award was given to Kai Alexander as the graduate who exhibited outstanding leadership skills among her peers.

The complete list of Benedictine Academy 2013 graduates is: Kai Alexander of Irvington; Kelly Amorim of Newark; Marina Batista and Barbara Borges, both of Hillside; Krystal Burns and Nicole Carvalho and Kimberly Clerie, all of Newark; Michelle Colonia of Elizabeth; Nylah Daniels of Newark; Tabitha Davis of Irvington; Martha Devia of Elizabeth; Norky Diaz of Newark; Gina Ferreiro of Hillside; Samantha Frejuste of Irvington; Shervonne Gittens of Elizabeth; Jeanette Gonzalez of Newark; Samantha Herrejon of Union; Jacqueline Herrara of Roselle; Heidy Isabel of Bloomfield; Milagros Lema of Belleville; Shana Lugay of Newark; Deja Rudolph of Linden; Jessica and Julissa Salermo, both of Elizabeth; Saleemah Sharpe of Union; Gabriella Soto of Hillside; Priscilla Sunduza of Elizabeth; Anglin Thevarajah of Irvington; Fatima Thomas of Newark; Beatrice Thompson-Quartey of Newark; and Marielis Vazquez of Elizabeth.


Benedictine Academy Class of 2013 Valedictorian Michelle Colonia (left), of Elizabeth and Co-Salutatorians Heidy Isabel (center), of Bloomfield and Martha Devia, of Elizabeth. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)


Martha Devia (left), winner of the 2013 Benedictine Academy St. Scholastica Award, given to the student who most exemplifies the virtues of the Benedictine way of life, is pictured celebrating the honor with her sister, Vanessa, and father, Jorge. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)


Jo-Renee Formicola, Ph.D. (at podium), a 1959 graduate of Benedictine Academy, delivered the keynote speech at the Academy’s 98th graduation ceremony on June 1. The commencement was held at Holy Spirit R.C. Church in Union. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)


“We All Are One!” Members of the Benedictine Academy Class of 2013 sang the inspirational Gospel song by Donnie Mc Clurkin at the conclusion of commencement exercises in Holy Spirit Church in Union on June 1. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

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