May 24, 2022
Service Day Highlights a Way of Life at Holy Angels
Service Day is a highlight of the spring at the Academy of the Holy Angels. As a sponsored work of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and a National Service Learning School, AHA students, faculty, and staff regularly share their gifts to help others throughout the year; however, this May observance allows the entire Holy Angels community to multiply their strength, working side by side as they care for the environment and help people in need.
Campus Ministry Director Kathleen Sylvester and Campus Minister Maryanne Miloscia spend untold hours organizing the Academy’s varied activities.
This year, the new middle school also participated in Service Day. AHA Middle School students worked with Dean Traci Koval and several teachers to beautify the garden at the front of Kelleher Hall. Students used their muscle power as they raked and weeded before digging holes and planting flowers.
Although off-campus volunteer opportunities remain limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the junior class was able to travel to two locations. Forty-five juniors went to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, where they sorted and packaged hundreds of bags of sweet potatoes. Another 85 students worked in Palisades Interstate Park, where they cleaned debris from Bloomers Beach.
Freshmen participated in a community service workshop led by Campus Ministry and prepared 450 sandwiches and 300 shelf-stable breakfast kits for Saint John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark.
“Seniors Zeida Ben-Fredj Lopez and Laila Tallides shared their community service experience with the ninth grade students to inspire them to embark on their community service projects. Zeida worked in a Food Pantry and Laila worked with children who have special needs,” AHA Director of Mission and Ministry Joan Connelly reported. “The theme for this school year, Love is the Sign, is a quote from the School Sisters of Notre Dame Foundress Blessed Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger. Service Day 2022 allows the school community to embody our theme and to be a sign of divine love to the world.”
Sophomores had a choice of several projects:
- One group of sophomore volunteers worked with AHA DEI Director Danielle Holmes to make no-sew baby blankets for Never Alone Again, an organization that assists those impacted by domestic violence.
- Several students spent the morning working with upper school teachers Sean Hickey and Jonathan Blevis to eliminate garlic mustard, an invasive plant, from the campus. These volunteers quickly learned to recognize the plant, and will be able to identify and remove it from their own yards and local parks in the future.
- Patricia Prucnel and Katie Collins directed a group of students who decorated the seniors’ lockers as a surprise tribute to their older friends.
- Megan Delasandro, Sister Mary Foley, SSND, and Sister Rose Federici, SSND, joined Angels as they held Zoom chats with School Sisters in Baltimore.
- Jennifer Lee and Christine DeGennaro helped their group craft spring cards for the SSNDs who live at the Ozanam and Watermark retirement residences.
- Kathryn Biskup assisted her students as they decorated flowerpots for the Franciscan Sisters of Tenafly.
- Angels also worked in the campus garden and greenhouse in support of Project Greenhouse. This AHA-based organization grows fresh produce on the school campus and donates it to local food banks.
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.