Get Started

June 12, 2023

Middle School Angels Complete 8th Grade with Family, Friends

The Academy of the Holy Angels Middle School celebrated eighth grade commencement on June 9, 2023. The school’s second graduation exercises and Baccalaureate Mass were held at Saint Thérèse of Lisieux Church in Cresskill with Father Samuel Citero, O. Carm, presiding.


AHA Middle School’s Class of 2023 includes Jaime Park Carlin, Gianna Elizabeth Castaldo, Anjolie Castro, Emma Aika Chang, Rebecca H. Cho, Lauren Sera Chung, Anabella Jade de Leon, Alexa K. Karounos, Emily Sooah Kho, Evangeline Grace Koo, Cailleigh Olivia Kraus, Madelyn D. Krol, Lavender Y. Lee, Mona Sakurako Lee, Eleanor Lim, Daniella Rose Luzzi, Kayleigh Elizabeth McGee, Joonhee Ester Myung, Keira Nordsvan, Bridget O’Sullivan, Sophia Diana Rendo, Allison Jessica Riccio, Angelina Seo, Emmeline Grace Terjanian, and Jane Yu.


AHA President Melinda Hanlon welcomed everyone to the event.

“You have all been part of our inaugural classes at the middle school,” President Hanlon told the graduates, adding that the eighth grade has helped to establish traditions that will endure through the years.


Father Sam shared that his first teachers were School Sisters of Notre Dame, the order that founded and sponsors AHA.

“God is invited into the classroom (at AHA),” he observed. “What a legacy (AHA is)…and you’re part of it!” He added, “You’re off to a good start, and the next four years are going to be phenomenal.”


AHA Middle School Dean Traci Koval shared that she was filled with anticipation as the 2022-23 academic year began.

“You were blessed with new successes and, most importantly, new learning experiences,” Miss Koval said. She urged the graduates to accept challenges and expand their horizons as they enter their upper school years. She reminded the Angels that Jesus will be walking with them along the way. 


Shortly before graduation, several Angels became charter members of AHA Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society chapter, which accepts students who demonstrate exemplary scholarship, leadership, character, service, and citizenship. Eighth grade honorees include Jaime Carlin, Gianna Castaldo, Emma Chang, Evangeline Koo, Esther Myung, and Allison Riccio. Seventh graders NJHS inductees are Ava Cifelli, Lizbeth George, Kaci Li, Cristyn Lindsay, Kaelyn Malig, Maria Petrou, and Chloe Zaladonis.


AHA Middle School faculty member Linda Payonzack announced that several eighth graders received the President’s Award for Educational Excellence. These honorees include Jaime Carlin, Gianna Castaldo, Emma Chang, Rebecca Cho, Lauren Chung, Annabella de Leon, Emily Kho, Evangeline Koo, Madelyn Krol, Lavender Lee, Mona Lee, Eleanor Lim, Daniella Luzzi, Esther Myung, Allison Riccio, Angelina Seo, Emmeline Terjanian, and Jane Yu.


The following Angels earned departmental honors: Gianna Castaldo, physical education; Evangeline Koo, art; Anjolie Castro, religious studies; Allison Riccio, science; Emma Chang, English; Kayleigh McGee, math; Esther Myung, algebra; Lavender Lee, French; Angelina Seo, Italian; Emmeline Terjanian, Latin; Emily Kho, Spanish; Emma Chang, social studies; and Lauren Chung, music.


Keira Nordsvan led her classmates in honoring their families for their love, encouragement, and support. Each graduate presented her family with a yellow rose along with a letter of thanks and appreciation.


The event concluded with the singing of the alma mater, a closing prayer by Anjolie Castro, and photos outside the church.



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.