Get Started

May 26, 2021

AHA’s Varsity Dancers Sign with Top Collegiate Teams

 Just weeks after reclaiming their national title, four varsity dancers from the Academy of the Holy Angels’ Class of 2021 became members of some the nation’s best collegiate dance teams. This year’s recruits are Carmela Alessio of Belleville, University of Central Florida; Tamara Kim of Demarest, Vanderbilt; Giselle Martin of Bergenfield, Rutgers University; and Valeria Pernicone of New Milford, Villanova. A signing ceremony was held at AHA on May 26.


These senior dancers have earned three Universal Dance Association national championships in small varsity hip-hop (2018, 2019, and 2021), and narrowly missed a fourth in 2020.


“With three UDA national championships under their belts, I was certain that these four seniors were going to be on the radar of many college dance team coaches,” said AHA Varsity Dance Coach Jenny Sweet. “In an unprecedented year where college dance team coaches were limited in their ability to travel and scout for talent, our senior dancers were asked to submit multiple videos and dance reels highlighting their skills and performance abilities.”


Sweet added that many coaches attended this year’s UDA event so they could see AHA’s dancers perform live.


While AHA’s accomplished dancers devote many hours to practices, performances, and competitions, they also distinguish themselves in various other aspects of Academy life.

Carmela Alessio is a member the National Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta (math honor society), and Rho Kappa (social studies honor society). She is an active DECA participant who qualified for state competition. She was selected to attend Sister Kathleen Cornell’s leadership seminar at AHA, and has served as an Angel Ambassador. She has been named to the Principal’s List for maintaining an outstanding grade point average (95 or above), and her inspirational attitude earned her AHA’s Sister Catherine Green Kindness Award. She has also served as member of the Big Sister Coordinating Team.


Tamara Kim is a Commended Scholar and founder of Save Your Planet, a non-profit that focuses on clean energy and sustainable living. This project is an extension of Kim’s interest in environmental science. Kim discussed some aspects of her nonprofit in a video interview for Awareness Day 2021. This Demarest resident is a member of the National Honor Society, the National Art Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, the Science National Honor Society, the National Art Honor Society, and the National Business Honor Society. Kim pursues her interest in business through DECA, where she has finished first (with teammate Emily Nam) and third in state competition. She represents AHA as an Angel Ambassador and participated in AHA’s 2020 fall photo shoot.


Giselle Martin is an Angel Ambassador and has been active with Fiesta4Hope’s service work in Puerto Rico. In 2019, she traveled to Puerto Rico to lend a hand in person. Later that year, she attended the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl with some of her peers from AHA. Martin’s academic achievements have led to her induction to the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, and National Art Honor Society.


Valeria Pernicone is a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Science National Honor Society, and Rho Kappa. She was commissioned as a Eucharistic Minister in October 2020. Pernicone’s service activities include volunteering to organize Saint Peter the Apostle School in Philadelphia for the 2019-2020 school year. She also attended the 2019 UN International Day of the Girl celebration.


AHA’s newest recruits follow in the footsteps of these fine AHA varsity dancers who previously signed with well-regarded teams: Sahar Ali-Jenkins (’19) and Kaitlyn Lack (‘19), Rutgers University; Natalie Quinn (’19), The Ohio State University; and Sophia Costa (’20), University of Mississippi.


Sweet pointed out that in-person dance events are resuming now that some COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted. As a result, the Academy of the Holy Angels will be hosting the UDA College Combine on August 15. Select dancers from across the northeast who participate in the combine will showcase their skills for various college dance team coaches.

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 many backgrounds.