May 06, 2013
Hurricane Sandy left a trail of devastation across the
Northeast, and few areas were hit as hard as Staten Island. But
even as their borough endured fierce damage, Staten Island
residents rolled up their sleeves and took action – and local high
schools played a major part in the reconstruction efforts.
In recognition of this fact, St. John’s University honored
many of these remarkable Staten Island high schools during the
Eighth Annual Leaders in Education Awards Dinner (L.E.A.D.), held
at the beautiful Hilton Garden Inn. Owned by alumni
Richard Nicotra ’76NDC, ’86HON and his wife, Lois (Malko) Nicotra
’77NDC, ’83GEd, the Hilton served as the perfect backdrop as 23
schools in total were acknowledged for their relief efforts.
Read more about how the 23 honored high schools served their
communities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy
“Unlike previous L.E.A.D. dinners, this year’s event
honors entire schools – not individuals – for how they assisted the
community in the aftermath of Sandy,” said Jerrold Ross, Ph.D.,
Dean of St.
John’s the School of Education. “As you all know, the spirit of
St. John’s is to aid those who are most in need, and the schools
being honored tonight certainly followed that same mission.”
Indeed, this year’s L.E.A.D. proved to be a true celebration of
Staten Island, as heartwarming stories were told of how each of
these schools served their local communities on Staten Island. Some
were praised for the generous tuition assistance they provided to
students burdened by the storm, while other schools were recognized
for offering shelter to those who had lost their homes.
“Sandy truly touched everyone on this island,” said Angela Ferrando
’81GEd, Principal of St. Joseph
Hill Academy High School. “You can’t single out just one person
– we performed these relief efforts as a team – and that’s why
tonight’s event is so spectacular.”
Ferrando recalled how, in the weeks after Sandy, St.
Joseph Hill Academy provided thousands of dollars in immediate
tuition assistance to families suffering from storm damage.
“Some families had lost their entire homes,” she explained. “It was
truly remarkable how much money we were able to raise from donors,
alumni and businesses to help those who truly needed it. It’s just
another example of how Staten Islanders were helping their
Meanwhile, Aurelia Curtis ’11GEd, Principal of Curtis
High School, remembered how her students, less than 24 hours
after the storm hit, worked tirelessly to help victims escape their
homes and dispose of destroyed furniture. Everyone, she noted,
chipped in to do their part.
“In a case like that, it takes a village,” Curtis said. “And it’s
not all about the physical labor. One of our staff members, for
example, designed a t-shirt and sold it to raise funds during the
aftermath. So, as you can see, there are just so many creative
stories like that, of how people on Staten Island showed their true
the awards ceremony came to a close, Kathleen Curatolo, Associate
Superintendent for Leadership and Recruitment, Office of the Superintendent
of Schools of the Archdiocese of New York, spoke of the
importance of honoring educators, especially when those educators
make a difference in the community.
“There are a multitude of heartwarming stories,” she noted. “For
example: after Sandy struck, the faithful men of Monsignor Farrell High
School were one of the first groups to organize relief efforts.
Moore Catholic High
School, meanwhile, ‘adopted’ a family to make a difference,
while Notre Dame
Academy contacted real estate agents to help displaced families
She added, “These stories go on and on. And although educators and
their schools don’t often receive recognition, it’s truly
remarkable that St. John’s is honoring them all on this very
special night at this wonderful L.E.A.D. dinner.”