The Saint Nicholas Day celebration shared by the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest and Saint Peter the Apostle School in Philadelphia fosters memories that last a lifetime. This year, the AHA Student Council extended the COVID-safe “event” they launched in 2020, when they were first unable to visit Philadelphia in person. Once again, AHA high school students from each grade level produced videos of themselves reading Christmas stories, and sent them to the Philadelphia school with a digital Advent calendar that plays a brief video every day leading up to December 25.
“I am so appreciative of our Angels, who realize the importance of our relationship with Saint Peter’s,” said AHA Campus Ministry Director Kathleen Sylvester. “It speaks to our charism of ‘making one,’ and their creativity in finding ways to do that in these times when we cannot be together in person is simply amazing! I know S. Nonna, Mother Caroline, and Blessed Theresa are smiling down on them,” she added, referring to three noted School Sisters of Notre Dame.
The special bond between AHA and Saint Peter’s begins with the fact that both institutions were founded by the SSNDs. AHA traditionally hosts an annual field day for Saint Peter’s children. During the summer, AHA students help arrange Saint Peter’s for the new academic year. Saint Peter’s students have also attended AHA’s award-winning musicals.
Saint Nicholas, whose feast day is celebrated on December 6th, is known for bringing gifts to others. When AHA students visit Saint Peter’s in person, they decorate gingerbread cookies, distribute candy canes, and share seasonal blessings.
Saint Peter’s Principal Sister Danielle Truex, IHM, and AHA Student Council Adviser Krystal Reilly are pleased with this year’s gifts. Each week in December, the children at Saint Peter’s are enjoying another story read aloud by their friends from Holy Angels. Selections include “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”
Ava GoyaI, who proposed the Advent calendar last year, has organized a new calendar with fun, safe activities. Instead of sweets, the virtual calendar includes daily pictures, videos, and messages. Goyal developed a calendar for AHA before deciding to create one for the children. The calendar made for Saint Peter’s includes videos with Christmas facts, Christmas music, and other festive videos.
Members of the AHA Student Council Executive Board include President Brooke Hess, Vice President Briana Uddo, Secretary Hannah Kim, and Treasurer Katie Merriam. Senior class officers and representatives are President Chelsie Lim, Vice President Kara Battaglia, Secretary/Treasurer Laila Tallides, Zeida Ben-Fredj Lopez, Katherine Day, Hannah Glaser, Julianna Della Croce, Uijin Kang, Mia Kivlehan, Nicole Romano, Olivia Presser, Zuleima Noriega, Chryssi Hartofilis, and Anna Tenaglia. Officers and representatives from the junior class are President Maia German, Vice President Ava Goyal, Secretary/Treasurer Alexis Mysliwiec, Morgan Battaglia, Jaclyn Larraz, Isabella Fernandez, Kathryn Fragola, Isabella McMahon, Reilly Guy, Anna Jang, Teri Koustas, Reese Orlofsky, Erin Pav, Cindy Yang, and Sydney Uddo. Sophomore officers and representatives include President Kate Hynes, Vice President Elise Tao Lana Serpico, Sarah David, Caitlin Deiser, Emily H. Kim, Speridoula Pavlatos, and Madeline Poblete. Freshmen Student Council members are Kathleen Bing, Dylan Cannata, Yeon Choe, Giulia Daly, Jacqueline Garcia, Saebin Jung, Chloe Kwon, Ava McAdams, Xenaya Medina, Stephanie Park, Sophia Rigoli, and Rafaelle Zorea