Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Angels Experience International Day of the Girl at the United Nations

Demarest, NJ: Sister Eileen Reilly, director of the School Sisters of Notre Dame’s United Nations Non-governmental Organization Office, helped 28 students from the Academy of the Holy Angels gain entrée to “Girls Speak Out.” The SSNDs founded and sponsor AHA, and are registered with the UN as an NGO, a connection that affords AHA students opportunities to observe and participate in UN-sponsored events.

A celebration of the International Day of the Girl, Girls Speak Out was held at UN Headquarters in New York City and featured speakers from around the globe. AHA students who attended include Olivia Arrigoitia of Dumont, Mary Batista of the Bronx (New York), Gina Buonauro of Fair Lawn, Camila Correa of Demarest, Veronique Dhont of Englewood, Courtney Dodds of Cresskill, Tyara Estrada of Kearny, Katherine Gazzini of Ridgewood, Kristen Gil of Cliffside Park, Abrianna Gutierrez of Hamburg, Palak Hazrati of Little Ferry, Daniella Hernandez of Northvale, Sakura Kagawa-Ferraro of Fort Lee, Hoi Lam of Englewood Cliffs, Camila Martinez of Paramus, Lucy McAuliffe of Allendale, Julia Mohr of Maywood, Katherine Morrissey of Saddle River, Anais Olivier of Saddle River, Liliette Quintana of Midland Park, Rhiannon Reilly of the Township of Washington, Danielle Sanchez of Nanuet (New York), Ryan Sargenti of Oradell, Eungyo “Ivy” Shin of Harrington Park, Caroline Staff of Oradell, Ayanah Taneja of Guttenberg, Melina Tidwell Torres of North Arlington, and Paulina Yannitsadis of Fair Lawn.

Caroline Staff said the experience opened her eyes to the widespread racial inequality in the United States.

“One girl who spoke was a Native American from Alaska and was seeking to become a model. I never realized how offensive it was when sports teams used their culture as logos like ‘redskins’ or when people dress up as Indians and the impact it has on the Native Americans,” Staff observed. “I loved how, when the girls shared their stories, if you looked around the room, you saw people nodding their heads and connecting to the speakers. It was amazing to witness so many strong, independent leaders defying the standards set for them by men.” 

Staff said she plans to share her experience with the AHA Girl Rising Club. 

Danielle Sanchez also expressed her appreciation for S. Eileen’s invitation to observe this event. 

“Being able to sit on the stage along with the speakers made it all the more incredible. I was very emotionally moved upon hearing all the stories, and the four performers were absolutely beautiful. The poetry was so impressive, and had a powerful impact on not only me, but the entire room. The whole vibe in the room was so empowering, and has influenced me to be even more confident in myself as a girl,” Sanchez noted. 

Abrianna Gutierrez is already looking forward to attending next year’s celebration. 

“I really enjoyed the experience!” she said. “I love the fact that there was girls from all over the world, and we weren’t limited to just the United States.”

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. 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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