Berlin school wins character award

Berlin school wins character award

“Character is who you are on the inside… You can have many talents, but your character defines who you are,” said Camden County Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez as she spoke to students at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Regional School.

The Berlin school was recently recognized for winning the 2019 Middle School of Character award for Camden County. The award is sponsored by Camden County Technical Schools (CCTS) in partnership with Camden County College and the Camden County Board of Freeholders. Leaders from all three organizations addressed the school community during the March 15 awards ceremony.

Students in the Mount Carmel Band played the National Anthem to kick off the award presentation assembly. School principal Alice Malloy, sharing her talent and love of music, directs the school band.

CCTS Superintendent Patricia Fitzgerald was first to commend the school community. “Without character, it doesn’t matter how good your grades are or how good your attendance is … but I think you already know this. That’s why you’re getting this award today,” she said.

The application review process was led by Charene Scheeper, assistant principal at CCTS, Pennsauken. In her remarks, Scheeper acknowledged the school’s SOAR program, a key contributor to the first place award. In its fourth year, SOAR is integral to the culture and curriculum at Mount Carmel, calling students to: Seek opportunities to serve, Own your learning, Act responsibly and Respect all people.

“I like what the ‘S’ stands for,” said Nate Covone, a seventh grade student. “There’s lots of opportunity in our school.”

A SOAR mural at the school’s entrance, created with help from current eighth grade art students, serves as a daily reminder that everyone has different gifts and talents, and all students should strive to be kind, generous and do the right thing. Themes of respect and care are explored through the novels “Maniac Magee,” “Tangerine” and “The Giver” in the middle school curriculum. All middle school students sign a code of conduct, and service to the community is a cornerstone of the school’s character development program.

Eighth grader Allison Budniak said Mount Carmel students are inspired to “see the best in everyone, including myself.” She said SOAR gives her something to stand by — not just during school hours.

“People of character do the right thing, even if nobody is there at the time to check on them,” said Donald Borden, president of Camden County College. He told the students, “There are things outside our control … but what we can control is how we treat others, what we do with our time.”

Saint Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral School, a Catholic Partnership School in the Diocese of Camden, was also recognized, receiving honorable mention as a school of character.

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