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December 09, 2020

AHA Students Share the Spirit of Saint Nicholas

When the Holy Angels Student Council realized their Saint Nicholas Day visit to Saint Peter the Apostle School had been canceled, these innovative teens developed COVID-safe ways to celebrate the season. AHA students produced videos of themselves reading Christmas stories, and sent them to the Philadelphia school with a digital Advent calendar that plays a brief video every day leading up to Christmas.


Saint Peter’s Principal S. Rose Federici, SSND, the children, AHA Student Council Adviser Krystal Hermanns, and Director of Campus Ministry Kathleen Sylvester are delighted with the results.


“Thank you to our Student Council for keeping our relationship with St. Peter’s going even during this crazy time. I applaud your creativity,” Sylvester said.


Each week before Christmas, the children at Saint Peter’s are enjoying another story read aloud by their friends from Holy Angels. The first video was presented by the freshmen, who recorded “The Polar Express.”

Kate Hynes of Park Ridge said she thought “The Polar Express,” which is a cherished book and a popular movie, was a perfect story to share with the children.

“I believed that reading ‘The Polar Express’ would also be a great choice because the story was one of my favorites when I was younger and I loved the idea of getting to share experience with other kids. So, I reached out to Kate Kim (of Palisades Park), and she was super enthusiastic about helping me read the story,” Hynes noted.

The video file became too large to share, but ends with the question, “Now, what would you like for Christmas?”

Hynes said this is a perfect question for the children at Saint Peters to answer for themselves.

Ava GoyaI, vice president of the sophomore class, was the driving force behind the Advent calendar.

“I first proposed the virtual Advent calendar because the Student Council was looking for fun, safe activities for the Christmas season,” the Montclair resident said. “I came across the virtual Advent calendar website when browsing for virtual Christmas activities. I love the holiday season, and one Christmas item my family purchases each year is an Advent calendar. While physical Advent calendars have chocolates and sweets in them, the virtual one that I came across allows you to put in pictures, videos, and messages.”

Goyal first developed a calendar for the Holy Angels community.

“The virtual Advent calendar was a popular idea, so Student Council composed one for St. Peter’s, as well,” Goyal continued, adding that the calendar made for the children includes videos with Christmas facts, Christmas music, and other festive videos.

“I hope that both the AHA and St. Peter’s communities will gain Christmas spirit and joy from the calendar. I know that, personally, a simple Christmas song can always make me happy!” the sophomore shared.

AHA’s 2022-2021 Student Council Executive Board includes President Maureen Murray, Vice President Olivia Martinez, Secretary Antonia Mysliwiec, and Treasurer Claire Dodds. Class officers and representatives include freshmen Kate Hynes, Kate Kim, and Elise Tao. Sophomore representatives are President Maia German, Vice President Ava Goyal, Secretary/Treasurer Alexis Mysliwiec, Morgan Battaglia, Annabelle Hur, Reilly Guy, Isabella McMahon, Erin Pav, Sydney Uddo, Noelle Wacker, and Xinyue Yang. Class of 2022 representatives include President Chelsie Lim, Vice President Hannah Kim, Secretary/Treasurer Briana Uddo, Kara Battaglia, Zeida Ben-Fredj, Julianna Della Croce, Hannah Glaser, Brooke Hess, Katherine Merriam, Olivia Presser, Nicole Romano, Eleni Tallides, and Anna Tenaglia. Senior representatives are President Julia Oakley, Vice President Kaya Simmons, Secretary/Treasurer Madi Dela Genta, Laura Carbo, Kaitlyn Griffonetti, Ariana Layne, Brigid Miller, Victoria Pichigian, Camille Rivas, and Victoria Thomas.

Holy Angels and Saint Peter’s enjoy a special bond, since both institutions were founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. AHA hosts an annual field day for Saint Peter’s children. During the summer, AHA students help S. Rose arrange Saint Peter’s for the new academic year. Saint Peter’s students have also attended AHA’s award-winning musicals.

Saint Nicholas, whose feast day is celebrated on December 6th, is known for bringing gifts to others. When AHA students visit Saint Peter’s, they usually decorate gingerbread cookies, distribute candy canes, and share seasonal blessings.