St. Benedict’s School held its Spirit Day, and despite an ice storm, the spirit of the children and alumni who came to speak about their experiences was not broken.
The school welcomed Assemblyman Michael Benedetto on Thursday, February 3, who spoke to the students for an hour about his time at St. Benedict’s as a student, evoking a different era around the time when he graduated from the school in 1961.
The keynote speaker fondly remembered his time at St. Benedict’s School, saying his teachers at St. Benedict’s prepared him well to be a teacher and later an elected official, serving the neighborhood that he grew up in.
“St. Benedict’s meant an awful lot to me,” Benedetto said. “When I was here as a student, I thought that my teachers were teaching me what I needed to know to live successfully in the world.”
One of the school’s more well-known graduates, Benedetto said that he had been blessed because his education at St. Benedict’s subsequently motivated him and helped him accomplish all that he set out to do professionally.
“I was a teacher, which is all that I ever wanted to be, and then I became a public figure,” Benedetto said. “It is so important to work to learn all you can. I loved American history and our form of representative democracy, and that got me into what I am doing now.”
The school’s principal Carole Arbolino, who graduated from St. Benedict’s in 1972, also spoke along with Benedetto and helped organize the Spirit Day with the school’s parent association as part of Catholic Schools Week.
“The idea for Spirit Day came from our parents organization when we were discussing Catholic Schools Week events and the parents thought that it would be a very good idea to have a day where we could welcome back alumni who could talk about their experiences at St. Benedict’s.”
The event coincided with a much anticipated “knock out” basketball game between the 8th grade and the teachers, Arbolino said.
Arbolino also spoke to the children about her experiences at the school, remarking about the first time that she saw the nuns that taught her without their religious habits was at a faculty-student basketball game.
“This whole group of adults came into the school gym to warm up and play basketball that we didn’t recognize, and then we realized that they were the nuns and remembered that they were people like us,” Arbolino said. “At that time, there were nuns teaching in most every grade level.”
Also speaking was Denise Livia, a parent who was part of the schools Bronx CYO championship basketball teams in the early 1980s.
“It was a day of reminiscing through the years and the children ended up learning a lot about the history of St. Benedict’s School,” the principal said.