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November 23, 2021

Kindness Award Winners Embody AHA’s Compassion & Inclusion

: Five young women who are living examples of compassion, inclusion, and honesty have earned the Sister Catherine Green Kindness Award. The Academy of the Holy Angels honored Katherine Merriam, Vanessa Medina, Daniella Demaras, Juliet Gelineau, and Alessandra Boncaldo on November 11.


Boncaldo, the freshman honoree, is from Stony Point, New York. Friends say Boncaldo is a genuine and thoughtful person who is a constant example of kindness and compassion.


“When you are having a bad day, she is the first one to ask if you are all right and she will sit with you and listen if you are not,” a classmate said. 


Boncaldo is aware of others people’s feelings, and willing to help make someone’s day better. One person wrote that she is friendly to everyone and always tries to make people feel comfortable.


Friends know Gelineau as a compassionate, trustworthy person with a welcoming, helpful manner. A friend who nominated this sophomore from New Milford said Gelineau always goes out of her way to make sure people feel included.


“She is always checking on the people around her to make sure everyone is having a good day and, if they aren’t, she is there to listen,” another classmate wrote. 


Demaras, another sophomore honoree, has a contagious smile and lights up the room when she enters. Friends say she is always there for others, and her generosity and kind-heartedness are inspirational. Her friends describe this Cresskill teen as compassionate, considerate, and full of positive energy.


“She always makes time for everyone and her generosity and bright spirit deserve to be recognized,” a friend said in her nomination letter. 


Medina, a junior from Nanuet, New York, is described as someone who always puts her peers first and will do anything to help others. Friends appreciate her uplifting attitude, genuine smile, and her ability to share her good cheer with others.

“She is inclusive of everyone,” a friend said of Medina. “She wants her classmates to feel welcome and goes out of her way to make sure that happens.”


Merriam, known to many as “Katie,” was honored for her kindness, compassion, patience, positivity, and friendly attitude toward students from every grade. 


One person wrote that this senior from Tenafly is “a wonderful example of a leader and one of the best role models I have ever had. She is always setting a good example for her younger classmates, and we know that, if we look to her for guidance, she will be open and caring.”


Another classmate called Merriam “the type of person who puts her friends before herself. She really focuses on bringing people together and is always fun to be around.”


Kindness Awards are presented to AHA students who demonstrate the exemplary, inspirational kindness for which Sister Catherine Green, SSND, was known. S. Catherine, who was a beloved member of the AHA Religious Studies Department from 1982 until 2014, was an attentive listener with a ready smile. Her nurturing spirit often found expression through warm words of support and encouragement. Those who remember S. Catherine recognize the legacy of caring she left to the Holy Angels community.


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 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.