Willingboro students salute those who serve their community
By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor
Police stations and hospital emergency rooms might not be high on the list of places that people would want to visit. But bright and early the morning of Jan. 29, students from Pope John Paul II Regional School were more than happy to go their local police station, hospital emergency room, firehouse and emergency medical technician headquarters to pay a special visit and say thank you to the personnel for the important work they do.
Among the many activities the Willingboro school had scheduled for Catholic Schools Week was a “Celebrating the Community” day in which the students focused attention on various organizations and individuals who give of themselves in service to the community.
The morning began with fourth grader Isabella Montes and fifth graders Angel Montes and Daniel Torpey and their parent chaperone heading to the police station and the emergency room of Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County, while the McNinch brothers, fifth grader Jonathan, and sixth grader, Andrew, and their father went to the firehouse and EMT headquarters to deliver boxes of donuts and handmade greeting cards with notes of thanks on behalf of their school community.
“We want to thank them for always being there for us,” said Torpey.
“They risk their lives for us,” added Isabella Montes.
As the Montes siblings and Torpey presented Willingboro Township Police Department’s Sgt. Brad Hill, Sgt. Adam Donofrio and Officer Michael Cammarota, with their gifts, Sgt. Hill smiled when he said that while he and his colleagues “are not in this work for the thanks, every once in a while it’s nice to receive appreciation for what we do.
“It’s nice to be thanked and Happy Catholic Schools Week,” Sgt. Hill said.
Back at school, “Celebrating the Community” day continued later with students in the upper grades gathering for an assembly with newly named Willingboro Mayor Martin Nock who shared about his background and life experiences and the impact he strives to make in the Burlington County community. In sharing his own stories with the students, it was Nock’s hope to offer them encouragement by taking their studies seriously, working hard and striving to pursue positive goals in the future.
The mayor’s remarks were not lost on eighth grader Cale Maxey who was surprised to learn the mayor lost both of his parents at a very young age and endured challenges while growing up. “That didn’t stop him from achieving his goals,” Maxey said. “He wanted to become mayor because he was the one being helped, so he wanted to help in return.”
While eighth grader Jazlyn Ramos enjoyed hearing Mayor Nock talk about how many people vote in Willingboro and how “we, as students, could make a better impact on voting,” classmate Alex Cryan focused on Mayor Nock’s plan for making Willingboro a “smart city,” that would allow residents to have very cheap, if not free, Wifi. Cryan was also interested to hear the mayor’s idea for “making Willingboro a brighter place” by replacing the current lighting that’s used in the township’s 3,200 light poles with LED lighting.
“I hope that the mayor saw how fun and energetic everyone is during Catholic Schools’ Week events. I hope that he can visit again,” said Ramos.
Classmate Dylan Onukwugha said the mayor impressed upon the students that “showing love, respect, and appreciation [for others] gets you places in life.
“Wanting to help others gives you a very good positive feeling, which makes me want to help out even more,” he said.
For eighth grader Samantha Bocci “Celebrating Community” day “is important for us to recognize our community members because of the things that they do for us.
“It is our time to give back and do things for them,” Bocci said.
Emmanuel Lewechi added: “It is important to recognize our community members whenever we can. They make it their job to think about our well-being. We have to appreciate these members so that they know that we notice their hard work to benefit all citizens.”