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January 19, 2021

AHA Students Join Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society

Thirty-nine members of the Academy of the Holy Angels Class of 2021 have been inducted into the Alice Paul Chapter of the Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society. Rho Kappa refers to head and hand, a reminder that knowledge must be accompanied by service. In fact, inductees must demonstrate excellence in social studies and a commitment to serving others.


This year’s inductees are Carmela Alessio of Belleville; Abigail Allport of Englewood; Natalie Andreoli and Sarah Onderdonk of Wyckoff; Hanga Antal of River Edge; Mariel Bacolod of Fort Lee; Kirstyn Barsola and Olivia Martinez of Paramus; Ava Buoncuore of Hoboken; Catherine Callahan, JaeMin Chu, and Madison Oaten of Tenafly; Isabella Darmanin of Old Tappan; Claire Dodds and Emily Nam of Cresskill; Ciara Donegan and Carol Laux of Westwood; Julia Fernandez and Natalie Near of Teaneck; Brianna Figueroa of Valley Cottage, New York; Samantha Han and Kimberly Pienkawa of Demarest; Julia Labita and Maureen Murray of Norwood; Grace Labruno, Alana Pomponio, and Ashley Thompson of Nutley; Julia Macaluso of Fair Lawn; Antonia Mysliewiec and Victoria Rocker of Cliffside Park; Julia Oakley of Union City; Anais Olivier of Ridgewood; Danielle Patti of Englewood Cliffs; Valeria Pernicone of New Milford; Mary Quimbo of Woodcliff Lake; Haley Sheehan of Dumont; Gwyneth Ulshoefer of Saddle Brook; Kendall Williams of Hillsdale; and Colleen Young of Secaucus.


AHA History Department Chairperson Gail Fair and faculty members Jennifer Cucchisi, Megan Delasandro, Patrick Dunne, Jamie Dykes, and Brianne Wolman led the symbol-studded ceremony. The hybrid event allowed in-person and online participation to accommodate every inductee while adhering to pandemic safety protocols.


“It is fitting that this induction, which was originally planned for November 2020, is occurring today, January 15, on the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who was a hero to the 20th century civil rights movement and a firm believer in non-violent protest. It is an honor to offer a few remarks to you on this important day. I hope you will honor Dr. King’s memory in how you live your own lives with activism and fairness,” Ms. Fair said in her remarks.


Fair noted some societal changes women have achieved throughout American history. She mentioned women’s successes in terms of voting rights, the end of slavery, prison and mental health reforms, and opening the world of medicine to women as doctors.


“We at Holy Angels honor Alice Paul for her tireless leadership in the fight for the 19th Amendment that made suffrage a reality,” Fair continued. “Because of her vision to press for a constitutional amendment, the (AHA) Social Studies Department unanimously chose to become the Alice Paul Chapter of Rho Kappa. The 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1971, allows you to vote at age 18, and I know that some of you voted for the first time in the 2020 election. I hope you will remain active followers of the issues facing our country and become consistent voters in all elections. This is one more way that you live up to the Holy Angels philosophy to work for the transformation of all persons.

“Here at Holy Angels, we know that the rich history of the School Sisters of Notre Dame speaks directly to female empowerment. So today, think about the word ‘action.’ Our SSNDs say that they ‘educate, advocate, and act, in collaboration with others for the dignity of life and the care of all creation.’ They ask us to be advocates for victims of violence and to make a conscious effort to respect and value girls by dismantling stereotypes and biases that we encounter.”


Every Rho Kappa inductee receives a yellow rose pin as a reminder of the yellow roses worn by those who supported Alice Paul’s struggle for women’s suffrage. The ceremony also includes the lighting of four candles. The white candle symbolizes truth, the green stands for knowledge, the gold is for wisdom, and the blue represents service.


The National Council for the Social Studies established Rho Kappa in 2011 to encourage students to pursue the social studies. Holy Angels received a Rho Kappa Charter in 2012, and installed its first members the following year.


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.