Erika Grullon and Ezekiel Vargas didn’t just graduate from Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx on June 3; they were also among seniors who received the Circle S Award this year for volunteering 200 hours and 150 hours, respectively.
In January, Michael Borges, chairperson of the school’s theology department, made this announcement after the school Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany:
“Good morning students, and to all of the members of the administration, faculty, and staff. It is with great pleasure that I announce to you this year’s recipients of the Cardinal Spellman High School Christian Service Circle S Award. Those receiving this honor had to have completed more than 95 hours of service.
“These 25 amazing seniors have a combined total of 4,460 hours of Christian service. For those of you who are into math that’s an average of 178 hours per student. They’ve volunteered at churches, schools, and community organizations throughout New York City and Westchester. The following seniors are asked to come forward when their name is called to receive the Circle S Award:”
Grullon and Vargas were among those asked to come forward for a “Sequere Deum” recognition patch, the phrase meaning “Follow God” in Latin.
“As Christians, we are called to serve others; it’s about Christian values and morals,” Grullon, who will start her freshman year at Fordham University in the fall, told The Good Newsroom. “We can love today because God loved us first. Even if it’s something small, if we can help someone else and reflect the Jesus in us, I would like to do that, to contribute in any way that I can.”
Her service projects during high school included: volunteering with summer camp at Holy Rosary School in the Bronx (her alma mater; she was valedictorian); food drives and youth group gatherings at Holy Cross parish in the Bronx (her family church);and spiritual retreats at the Catholic Charismatic Center in the Bronx.
“I love helping people; as Christians, we’re called to service,” said Vargas, who will begin his studies at the University of Albany next autumn. “I also definitely had fun with some of the things that I did, like altar serving, and the summer camp was lots of fun. Cardinal Spellman really inspires service among the students; the teachers try to lead us to do better in this world, to do good in the world.”
His high school service projects included volunteering with Spellman’s campus ministry and student government; summer camp at Holy Rosary School (his alma mater); and last September helping during the Reunion of the Spellman Class of 1979.
“Besides the (recognition) patch, this is something that the students can put on their transcripts; so this is something that colleges would have, the colleges would know; it’s something that’s impressive on their resume,” teacher Borges told The Good Newsroom. “When I think of the best that Spellman has to offer this particular year, both of these young people come to mind immediately.”