Story by Dorothy K LaMantia, Correspondent
While most students were heading home at the end of the school day, there were 202 seventh grade students who were arriving at Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River, April 2 to participate in the 26th annual Scholastic Olympics.
PHOTO GALLERY: Ocean County Scholastic Olympics
Students from five schools in the Diocese – All Saints Regional, Manahawkin; St. Aloysius, Jackson; St. Peter, Point Pleasant Beach; St. Dominic, Brick, and St. Joseph, Toms River– competed against their peers from eight public schools in Bay Head, Lavallette, Lakehurst, Howell, Jackson and Toms River.
Contestants were chosen by their teachers based on their classroom performance, grades and test scores.
The schools were divided into three separate divisions based upon the number of students enrolled in each school’s seventh grade. Individual students – two from each team – competed in one of eight subjects – science, math, history, English, art, technology, spelling and music – for bronze, silver and gold medals.
Winners of the gold would also take home a $500 tuition credit certificate towards future enrollment at Donovan Catholic. Each first-place school in each division was awarded a trophy and was ranked for top honors based upon points for medal winners and combined test scores.
After weeks of preparation – some of it after school or during lunch or flex time – students took hour-long written tests in classrooms. Spellers participated in a traditional three-round oral spelling bee.
When the tests ended, students returned to the cafeteria, joining parents and teachers who stayed through the hour to wait for the announcement of the scores. Only the winning spellers could bask in triumph sooner and bypass the tension of awaiting the awards assembly.
After tests were corrected and scores tallied, Dr. Edward Gere, principal of Donovan Catholic, announced winners and presented medals before a standing-room only audience.
The diocesan schools had much to celebrate. All Saints Regional triumphed as the top Division One team with five medalists: Matteo Pasqualicchio (gold, science), Sage Targett (gold, art), Elizabeth Kevenaugh (silver, art), Henry Baldwin (silver, technology) and Damian Verardi, (silver, spelling).
Fellow Division One teams, St. Peter and St. Aloysius, also took home medals, six for St. Peter, including Thomas Biebnowski (gold, history), Kathleen Petrello (gold, English), Fletcher Hargis (shared silver; math), Michael Tesquero (shared silver, history), Jack Heins (bronze, music) and Zoe Petrella (shared bronze, math). Medalists from St. Aloysius included Dominic Lambusta (gold, technology), Kaitlin Mahala (gold, spelling), Kylie Ion (silver, English) and Catherine Volk (bronze, history).
St. Joseph Grade school was the top Division Two team and achieved First Place Team Champions with 12 medalists: Andrew Balrus (gold, science), Robert Abatemarco (gold, history), Arianna Bara (shared gold, English), Gia Gagnano (silver, art), Mia Bagabaldo (silver, spelling), James Kopack (silver, music), Jack Farkelas (silver, English), Caleigh Austin (bronze, math), Daniel Nguyen (bronze, science), James Harc (bronze, history), Sage Farina (bronze, art), Adam Sahmanian (bronze, technology) and Kira Chmielewski (bronze, music).
St. Dominic was named Second Place Team Champion, thanks to its eight medalists: Joseph Miller (gold, technology), Megan Ebinger (gold, math), Tony Freay (gold, spelling), Brian McKeon (gold, music), Julie Minarick (shared gold, English), Kailie Zebick (silver, technology), Carissa Cahill (bronze, spelling) and Mitchell Hnatt (shared bronze, English).
“I feel great,” said Damian Verardi, of his silver medal in spelling then admitted he reads a lot and pays attention to the way words are spelled.