Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

AHA Sends Over $7,000 to Puerto Rico

Demarest, NJ: In just a few months, the Academy of the Holy Angels raised $7,042 to help four teachers from Academia Perpetuo Socorro in San Juan, Puerto Rico, who lost everything due to Hurricane Maria. AHA demonstrated that a goal can be an artificial limit, as the school community pushed past the original $3,000 challenge before Thanksgiving 2017, and then exceeded the revised challenge of $5,000.

The Academy joined the recovery effort, heeding the call of Provincial Leader Charmaine Krohe of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, AHA’s founders and sponsors. The Spanish National Honor Society spearheaded AHA’s collaborative fundraising, with the support of several other school organizations. Contributions mounted as students, faculty, and staff purchased edible treats, had their pictures taken, added their palm prints to a giant banner, attended a fiesta, and participated in additional events that concluded on February 6th. Student organizations that were involved include the Italian Club, French Club, Math Honor Society, History Honor Society, Model UN, Student Athletic Association, and Student Council.

Just 60 days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, the initial series of AHA fundraisers had netted $3,269. As the students, faculty, and staff gathered for a Thanksgiving assembly, Spanish teacher and Spanish National Honor Society Moderator Carmen Quiñones challenged those present to increase the fundraising goal to $5,000. Her proposal drew enthusiastic applause.

Those assembled were positively impacted by guest speaker Sister Josefina Morales, SSND, who hails from Puerto Rico. S. Josefina described her post-hurricane trip to Puerto Rico to visit her parents. She reported that many people were without electricity, and others were stranded, since bridges had been destroyed.

S. Josefina, a social worker practicing in Rochelle Park, pointed out that many existing mental health issues among the Puerto Rican people have been exacerbated. Many lost their homes, their employment, and their lives. She noted that, for many, the focus of this catastrophe has been political, rather than humanitarian. Nonetheless, she stated that the resiliency of the Puerto Rican people gives her hope for the future.

AHA sent an initial donation check to Academia Perpetuo Socorro Director Father Juan Santa in November. On December 14th, Fr. Juan sent a heartfelt thank you letter to AHA Director of Campus Ministry Kathleen Sylvester.

“On behalf of the people of Puerto Rico and Academia Perpetuo Socorro, we thank you for your donation, prayers, and support to bring relief to many victims of the past two hurricanes,” Fr. Juan wrote, referring to Hurricane Irma, which hit Puerto Rico on September 6th, and Maria, the more powerful of the two storms.

Noting that his school is also founded in the SSND tradition, Fr. Juan added that his students have been hard at work assisting others who were impacted by these natural disasters.

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 high 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.

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