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May 26, 2019

AHA Community Members Work Side by Side on Service Day

Each spring, Service Day allows students, faculty, and staff from the Academy of the Holy Angels to bond as they work side by side, sharing their strength, organizational skills, and many other gifts with the community at large.

“Service Day is instrumental to the education of young women at the Academy of the Holy Angels because it teaches them the importance of giving back,” AHA Principal Jean Miller explained, adding that sharing one’s gifts and talents is the cornerstone of an SSND education. Miller was referring to the School Sisters of Notre Dame, AHA’s founders and sponsors.

“Students are required to reflect on their experience and learn about the total impact of the work they are doing with others,” she continued. “This is what makes service at Holy Angels different from service in other schools — it is the service-learning component and it is the reason we’ve earned the title of National Service Learning School.”

AHA Director of Mission and Ministry Joan Connelly added, “I believe that Service Day is important for the AHA community because it gives all of us an experience of living out Catholic social teaching, especially the principles of option for the poor and vulnerable and care for creation. The beliefs and values we profess are placed into action that is concrete and visible.”

Campus Ministry Director Kathleen Sylvester agreed.


“We talk service and gospel values daily. On this day, we live (those values),” Sylvester noted. She described Service Day as a great community builder, since members of the AHA community work together toward common goals.

AHA’s volunteers spent Service Day 2019 at locations that included New Jersey Audubon’s Lorrimer Sanctuary in Franklin Lakes, Oasis: A Haven for Women and Children and La Vida Childcare in Paterson, Saint Matthew’s Lunch in Hoboken, The Nurturing Place in Jersey City, and Saint John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark.


The sophomores and their chaperones cleared leaves, sticks, and branches from the trails at Allison Park, and the freshmen assisted the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.


One group of AHA volunteers hosted a Field Day on the Academy’s campus for students from Saint Peter the Apostle School in Philadelphia.


Student artists participated in Art on the Go, which focused on arts and crafts projects for the benefit of the Franciscan Sisters, Adult Day Away, and Holy Name Hospital. Some students helped assemble hygiene kits through the Days for Girls program, and the Project Greenhouse team worked in the school’s greenhouse and garden, planting and harvesting the fresh vegetables the students grow for local food pantries.


Although Service Day is held just once a year, Holy Angels students engage in various projects as individuals and in groups to benefit others close to home and across the globe.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.