By Anastasia Millicker
Although Red Bank Catholic seniors have graduated, a group of them hopes they left an impact on current and incoming freshmen with their “I love me” campaign.
In a semester-long campaign that ended last month-May, Student Assistance Counselor Kathleen Booth, co-chairs Olivia De Felice and Lauren Hughes and a group of 15 seniors shared their stories about the importance of self-value and self-respect.
“A senior can now reflect on what is important and what is not in high school and they can be a great reference for younger students,” Booth said.
The campaign began during Catholic Schools Week, the first week of February. Red Bank Catholic High School hosted guest speaker, Justin Fatica, who spoke about self-worth while promoting the Catholic faith with his Tough As Nails Ministry.
After hearing Fatica’s story, students decided to share their stories of self- empowerment and knowledge by having classroom presentations to the RBC freshmen and Saint James eighth-graders, Booth said.
Students created and sold “I Heart Me” shirts in pink and gray, with monetary donations going toward the Tough As Nails Ministry. They shared stories and poems of self-respect over the intercom during morning announcements.
Senior Joe Coscarelli advocated the importance of grades to freshman classes during the program. Coscarelli, a Matawan resident, said he started his freshman year at RBC focused on football but realized that football was not the only thing that mattered in high school.
“I needed school and I wanted to play football and hang out with my friends,” Coscarelli said. “I had to learn to separate the wants and needs.”
Ryan Slate said a topic close to him was the significance of bullying. Using the movie Bully as an example, Slate asked students if they had ever been involved in either side of a bullying situation. All the students raised their hands. Then Slate talked about the hurt and pain that comes from this. He believes no one really wants to hurt others but we all have to respect our classmates and their differences.
“It was really moving,” said Slate, an Oceanport resident. “The students’ reactions were sincere and emotional and I believe I made a difference.”
Allie Arnone shared her experience about being a part of a clique when entering high school but learned the importance of true friendship. Arnone, an Eatontown resident, shared that a good friend is one who brings out the best in you.
Initially students were nervous because teachers were in the classroom during the presentations. However, after hearing what they students had to say, the teachers were impressed by their message, Booth said.
“All teenagers make mistakes,” Booth said. “You make a bad choice but it’s not the mistake that defines you but it’s how you handle it.”
In addition to students going to classrooms, parents also were involved with the campaign and donated the “I Heart Me” banner hanging in front of the school.
Booth said she has known many of the students since their first year and has seen them progress while at RBC.
“The seniors once again will be freshmen, now in college,” Booth said. “I believe they will take this message of the importance of self respect with them.”
Senior Anthony Dorsi said with the confidence he gained through the “I love me” campaign, he plans to branch out in college by becoming involved and networking.
Dorsi, a Millstone resident, believes one of the most important lessons, he learned through the club and campaign was the importance of self-worth.
“You need to love and value yourself before you can reach out and love others,” he said.