South Jersey Catholic Schools’ newest graduates are busy this summer with work, vacations, family and friend time, and possibly an academic head start. With nearly 97% attending college, most are outfitting dorm rooms, too. Every student is unique, with different academic and career pursuits, interests and talents. But they are bound by their Catholic school experience — where a faith-based education has prepared them for their next chapter. The Star Herald asked some members of the class of 2019 to share a bit about their time in South Jersey Catholic schools. Here’s what they had to say.
Paul VI High School, Haddonfield
Plans for the Fall: Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania
High school activities: Soccer, lacrosse, National Honor Society, Italian National Honor Society, Italian club, ambassadors club, Samaritan club, Soar For A Cure dance marathon, NJSIAA student athlete advisory committee
Favorite high school memory: Junior year… at the first annual Soar For A Cure dance marathon, my committee and I held up the revealing numbers at midnight. There was confetti falling, music playing, and students cheering, I was so filled with joy over all that we had accomplished.
Advice for Freshmen: Do not change who you are because you think that is what other people want. There will be many pressures in high school, specifically freshmen year. However, you will succeed, you will find your group of close friends, and you will enjoy your time in high school if you stay true to yourself.
St. Joseph High School, Hammonton
Plans for the Fall: Villanova
High school activities: Baseball, attending school sporting events and extracurricular activities
What he appreciates most about Catholic school: The teachers are understanding and cooperative and really care about their students. They teach because they truly want to help kids… Catholic school is where teenagers can find a deeper meaning in their faith and learn about the Catholic faith itself.
Advice for incoming freshmen: Ask for help when you are in need. Teachers here are very helpful and are here to help you, not to hurt you.
Wildwood Catholic High School, Wildwood
Plans for the Fall: Immaculata University, Malvern, Pennsylvania
High school activities: Baseball, basketball, fall musical, student council, National Honor Society, yearbook, Mr. Wildwood Catholic, retreat leader, Eucharistic minister, altar server
What he appreciates most about Catholic school: I appreciate being able to express my faith openly to others, as I would in great depth at retreats, and to be able to learn more about my faith as well as other religions. I got to meet and be classmates with all different people in my county and beyond, not just teenagers in my specific city or township. The support is incomparable and everyone is friendly and genuine towards each other.
Someone who made a significant impact on his life: Mrs. Vicki Bolle. She taught me Spanish II my sophomore year and Spanish III my junior year. Mrs. Bolle was, and still is, always the happiest, kindest, [most] helpful, and hardest working teacher that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and being in class with… I have heard from her two children, Tommy and Ivy, who are my schoolmates that she is the best mother they could wish for, and it doesn’t take much to see that either.
Holy Spirit High School, Absecon
High school activities: Soccer, basketball, track
Plans for the Fall: University of Maryland
Favorite memory: Going back to my middle school and speaking to younger kids about coming to Holy Spirit.
Someone who made an impact on her life: Mr. Geiger because he is always there for us, always a smiling face in the hallways, a great teacher and an overall amazing source of support for his students.
Our Lady of Mercy
Plans for the Fall: Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
High school activities: volleyball, stage crew, student government, National Honor Society, community service, library support
Someone who made a significant impact on her life: My AP Literature and French teacher, Mr. Jarrell, through his engaging discussions and hands-on activities (e.g., cooking French cuisine), instilled in me a love for learning for the sake of knowledge rather than a good grade.
Advice for incoming freshmen: Everybody is different; it may take time, but you must find what study habits work for YOU! Most importantly, work hard, be kind, and have fun.
Saint Augustine Preparatory School, Richland
Plans for the Fall: Franciscan University of Steubenville
High school activities: Campus ministry, student government, National Honor Society, track and field, Fencing, Knights of St. Augustine, National Junior Classical League, and Big Brothers.
Favorite high school memory: First month of senior year at Hermit Fest, which is an evening of fun and games that marks the first home football game of the season… right before kickoff, all Hermit Brothers [were] united under one cause: to cheer on our team and help lead them to victory… Each and every person present was fully engaged in contributing to that one shared cause. It was at that moment I realized just how much the Hermit Brotherhood was integral to the life of the Prep and how much it truly meant to me.
Someone who made a significant impact on his life: Mrs. Asselta, the head of the English Department and AP Literature teacher, saw potential in me that I did not see myself. … I followed Mrs. Asselta’s advice… and realize how much of an impact it made on my life; because of her involvement in my academic career, I developed a work ethic that I would have otherwise lacked, which in turn allowed me to challenge myself by filling my Junior and Senior year schedules with AP and Honors courses… I am ready to take the work ethic she instilled within me into college and beyond.
Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill
High school activities: Soccer, Student Government, basketball, Kairos, Virtua Junior Volunteer
Plans for the Fall: University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
What she most appreciates most about Catholic school: The sense of community. Because CCHS is a relatively small school everyone knows and supports one another. It is so special to walk down the hallway and be greeted with smiles and waves from everyone you pass. Additionally, you don’t just learn to be a better student but a better person, so you are prepared for all aspects of life.
Someone who made an impact on her life: My AP Biology teacher, Dr. Nguyen. She truly cared about the success of each member of the class and she challenged us to be better students and better people. She also inspired me to work hard in everything I do and helped me realize that God is present in every aspect of my life, including science.
Gloucester Catholic High School, Gloucester City
High school activities: Soccer
Plans for the Fall: Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD
What he appreciates most about Catholic school: I value the sense of community, friendship and spirituality within the Catholic school. These things make a Catholic high school experience unique.
Advice for incoming freshmen: Enjoy every moment of your high school experience to the fullest.