The Diocese of Trenton PTA has announced the winners of its second annual tuition scholarship contest, to the delight of school representatives.
“When one school was notified, the principal was almost in tears,” said Jessica Jarmer, diocesan PTA vice president. “She told me how much winning this scholarship will mean to the student … [who] ‘works so hard, and it is so amazing that her efforts are going to be acknowledged.’”
Begun in 2022 during Catholic Schools Week under current DOT PTA president Elia Landino, the tuition scholarship contest awards $500 to six students in Catholic elementary schools across the Diocese. Students were invited to submit their contributions to their teachers by mid-February, with the final judging taking place in May.
The essays are first judged by the classroom teachers, then by the school principals before moving on to the DOT PTA. The DOT PTA board, along with Dr. Vincent de Paul Schmidt, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, reviews them and picks the winners.
“Approximately 80 percent of our grammar schools contributed,” Jarmer affirmed. She explained that kindergarten through third grade students answer a question with a poster illustration, fourth and fifth grade write 300-500-word essays based on another question, and yet another essay question is posed to sixth through eighth graders, who write 500-750-word responses. Two winners – one from Burlington-Mercer schools and one from Monmouth-Ocean schools – are awarded in each age category.
Topics were based on the National Catholic Schools Week theme “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.” Kindergarten through third grade illustrated the question “What does service mean to you?” Fourth through fifth grades wrote a response to the question “What does faith mean to you?” Sixth through eighth grades reflected on “What does excellence mean to you?”
The $500 scholarships, given directly to the winners’ schools on behalf of the students, “are offered by the DOT PTA to promote Catholic identity in the schools,” Jarmer noted. “They will receive a certificate and tuition voucher at the PTA Diocesan Fall Conference in September to help with their tuition. Winners must be continuing with Catholic education in the Diocese to receive the scholarship.”
Fees collected from all Catholic school PTA chapters in the Diocese help contribute to the scholarship fund, as well as other education support, such as continuing education for teachers and additional help for students who qualify for academic support.
“The DOT PTA contributes to the Orton-Gillingham Training Program that the Diocese offers,” Jarmer explained. “It is a literacy training program to teach students when reading, writing and spelling don’t come easily. Orton-Gilliangham is specifically useful to our students with dyslexia.”
Winners of the 2nd Annual Diocese of Trenton PTA Scholarship Contest:
Monmouth-Ocean: Yzabel Cayetano – 1st Grade, St. James School, Red Bank
Burlington-Mercer: Ariel Lezanna – 2nd Grade, Our Lady of Sorrows School, Hamilton
Monmouth-Ocean: Evangeline Laneville – 5th Grade, St. Catharine School, Spring Lake
Burlington-Mercer: Julianna Payne – 4th Grade, Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly
Monmouth-Ocean: Lillian Jenks – 6th Grade, St. Dominic School, Brick
Burlington-Mercer: Isadora Iwamoto – 6th Grade, St. Paul School, Princeton