Tag Archives: Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy

Douglaston school walks against bullying


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Students from the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy School embarked on their first “Stamp Out Bullying Walkathon” on Friday in an effort to remind themselves and the community about the damaging effects of students picking on each other.

“This walk is meant to stomp out bullying,” eighth-grader Lena Vella said. “It’s meant to teach people how to take action.”

The trek from the school on Northern Boulevard to a ballpark on Cloverdale Boulevard was made by 250 students, Prinicipal Michael Laforgia and several teachers. A new student-run program in the school called the Pope Francis Society hosted the event. Once students made it to the ballpark, a selected group of kids read essays on bullying to their classmates. A group of students from Divine Wisdom’s other campus in Bayside also held a walkathon and the two converged on the ball park. Most of the students wore orange shirts, the color of their cause.

Laforgia became principal of the pre-K-8 Catholic school four years ago, and students, teachers and parents credit him with making the students more aware of bullying.

“These kids don’t walk into the school with a halo,” Laforgia said. “So we have to be very active in preventing bullying. I hope in the quiet of their day they’ll take a moment to reflect on this.”

Lena and three other classmates volunteered to write their own essays for the event. They are all part of the Pope Francis Society, which is made up of about 40 students who meet together once a week with Laforgia and teachers. Most importantly, Lena said, they’re given the task of keeping an eye out for bullying in school, acting as hall-monitors against aggressive behavior.

“I hate that so many people just watch when others are picked on,” said Laura Toscano, Lena’s classmate. “We’re trying to get people to be friendly.”

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Queens Girl Scout cookie champ ready to hand out sweet treats


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DeAnne Lorde

This Queens Girl Scout is one smart cookie.

Springfield Gardens seventh-grader Najah Lorde more than doubled her cookie sales from last year to become the top seller in the city with 2,833 boxes.

Najah, 12, has been selling cookies since she joined the Girl Scouts in second grade, but didn’t surpass the 1,000 mark until 2013 when she sold 1,111 boxes.

That year, she was bested by Upper West Side resident Olivia Cranshaw by about 700 boxes.

Cranshaw set a goal of selling over 2,000 this year. She exceeded that number by 141, but Najah had the right ingredients for a win.

“I was running and screaming all over the house,” Najah said, describing the moment she found out she was the cookie champ.

Each Girl Scout that sells over 1,000 boxes receives all the prizes offered, including a Nintendo Wii and Sephora gift card.

“If you are the top seller you just win bragging rights,” Najah said.

“She’s very competitive, Najah’s father Donovan Lorde said. “She was very determined when the sale started.”

Najah, a member of Troop 4287, claimed she had no special strategy, but her father said she did have a plan, she just didn’t realize it.

He said she made a list of the people she wanted to call and even took his and his wife’s phones to look for potential buyers. Using her networking skills, the preteen urged her contacts to reach out to others.

The Girl Scout said she received a lot of support from family. She also sold the baked goods at her school, Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy in Douglaston, her church, the Greater Allen Cathedral of New York, and her parents’ workplace, SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

“When we tallied up the numbers and we saw 2,833, we were like ‘wow that is a lot of boxes,’” Donovan said.

“To a certain degree we were surprised by the number, but we weren’t surprised that she did it,” he added.

Najah is aiming for another win next year by selling at least 3,000 boxes.

Though her father is supportive of her ambitions, he admits the goal makes him somewhat “afraid.”

This Saturday, the boxes are set to arrive and they will need to figure out how to store, transport and hand out all those cookies.

“We are going to need a very big vehicle to pick up the boxes,” Donovan said.

 

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Star of Queens: Suzanne Karl, chair, board of directors, Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

photo

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Community Involvement: Three years ago, the building that once was known as St. Anastasia’s School in Douglaston reopened as the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy. The chairperson of the board of directors for the academy, Suzanne Karl, talked about how she was devastated when she first heard the school was closing.

“My two sons went to St. Anastasia’s and when I heard it was closing it broke my heart,” she said. “I wanted to find a way to keep the school open. It had to close and if it was to reopen it would be as an academy.”

Now, Karl says the academy is growing strong with around 400 students attending and a second campus to reopen in Bayside where St. Robert Bellarmine once held classes.

As chairperson, Karl heads all the financial activities for the academy, such as marketing, advertising and fundraising. “Right now we’re working with Catholic Schools Week and we did all the marketing and advertisements for that,” she said. “We also held open houses and meet with prospective parents and answered any questions they may have.”

Karl also sits on the advisory committee for Preserving the Vision, a program geared to expanding the outreach of Catholic schools in the Brooklyn Diocese, as well as preserving their religious identity. Karl says she is entering her sixth and last year on the committee as members are only allowed two three-year terms.

Personal Background:  Karl grew up in Middle Village and has been living in Douglaston for the past 19 years. “I’m a Queens girl.”

Inspiration:  Karl says her inspiration came after the tragic events of 9/11, “My brother-in-law was a firefighter who died that day,” she said. “The community embraced my sister and niece and nephew and the caring that came out of that made me want to give back. That taught me how important it is to give back.”

Favorite memory: “In 2009, in September, when the school opened for the first time. Watching the kids coming in and smiling and knowing they didn’t have to go to another Catholic school or a public school. That was the happiest moment of my life, besides the birth of my children.”

Biggest Challenges: “Finances. We’ve put in so many enrichment programs that we always have to find sources to fund them. We have Spanish that starts in kindergarten and we also do art and so we have to hire teachers for that. We’re always looking to raise funds and looking for donors.”

 

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Two Queens Catholic schools to merge next year


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Two Catholic schools in northeast Queens will merge and operate under one name in September 2013.

St. Robert Bellarmine School, located at 56-10 214th Street in Bayside, will reopen under Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy in the next school year after board of directors at both schools unanimously approved the expansion this month.

The Bayside school will be called the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy at St. Robert Bellarmine campus. It will join Divine Wisdom’s current campus at St. Anastasia, located at 45-11 245th Street in Douglaston.

“In an age when Catholic schools are being closed in our city and in the whole nation, this is a strong and confident step in the other direction,” said Monsignor Martin Geraghty of St. Robert’s.

The change will have no effect on students, who will continue attending their respective campuses, Geraghty said.

But while existing administration, staff and faculty at Divine Wisdom will stay in place, employment at St. Robert’s will cease when the school year ends, said officials.

Geraghty said staff members could reapply for jobs at Divine Wisdom.

Some St. Robert’s community members, including Geraghty, are expected to be added to Divine Wisdom’s board of directors.

“We’re confident that we will be able to grow stronger by combining our assets and growing together as a larger community dedicated to excellence,” Geraghty said. “We will be able to take what are already two very good schools and make them superior.”