By EmmaLee Italia | Contributing Editor
Thanks to their outstanding commitment to community service, seven students of St. Paul School, Princeton, were awarded scholarships from the St. Paul conference of St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Eighth-graders Shannon Conway, Luke Foley, Isabella Sagarese, Gianna Timberlake, Isabella Timberlake, Olivia Troiano and Tobias Urban all received scholarships, which will go toward the students’ Catholic high school tuition. The awards are a first-time offering from the local SVDP conference, and will be paid directly to the Catholic high school the students will attend in the fall.
“[Last year] we participated in the Angel Ministry at St. Paul School, an anonymous donor program where a donation supports a child in financial need, determined by Msgr. Joseph Rosie [St. Paul Parish pastor],” explained Cathy Gavin, SVDP member who chaired the scholarship committee. “The scholarship idea grew from our support of this program. It got us all thinking about [the value of] Catholic education, especially in today’s world.”
The scholarship application process consisted of a form listing the community service the student had performed, accompanied by a 400-500 word essay answering the question, “How have you grown spiritually through community service?”
Kim Clauss, school principal, remarked on the generosity of parish groups in assisting the needs of the school and its students.
“I am so impressed by the amount of community support there is to St. Paul School, groups like St. Vincent de Paul and the Knights of Columbus,” she said. “I am truly grateful for all their help.”
Clauss was approached by SVDP in February with the scholarship idea. Originally planned as an award for two students, the committee – consisting of Gavin and two other SVDP members – was so impressed with all seven applicants that they decided to grant extra awards to the remaining five.
“We were touched by the kindness, commitment, generosity and scope of the activities the students were performing,” Gavin affirmed. “The hard work simply needed to be rewarded.”
“The kids do service in church [altar serving, choir] and through their religion classes; we do so many different projects: Farmers Against Hunger, Hearts to Hospitals,” Clauss explained. “The eighth-graders buddy up with younger kids to help them on service projects as well.”
Gavin also spoke on service mentioned in the students’ essays, such as donations of time and treasure to local agencies including Womanspace, Anchor House, Morris Hall nursing home, animal shelters, supporting troops, beautification of town parks, scouting, clothing and holiday gift drives, to name a few.
“One common theme was an awareness of those less fortunate,” she said. “Additionally we were impressed with the length of time the students performed their service, belonging to various organizations for many consecutive years and ongoing. This demonstrated to us a true commitment to serve and to make a difference – and above all, to put the needs of the less fortunate above one’s own self.”
The essays, Gavin reflected, were all thoughtfully written, many of them quoting Scripture.
“The students received much joy from their service activities,” she said, “and this has motivated them to continue to volunteer and make a difference in people’s lives.”