ROSEDALE — What’s the big news in schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn? Here’s the scoop! The Tablet’s Fundraiser for Catholic Schools was a big success, as four students outdid themselves by selling lots of subscriptions to their favorite newspaper.
This year, there was a first place winner, a second place winner, and two third place winners because two students wound up in a tie.
John Alexander, The Tablet’s marketing and circulation manager, visited the winners at their schools on Wednesday, Nov. 1, to present them with giant facsimiles of checks with their names emblazoned in bold letters. The youngsters, who glowed with pride during the presentations, will get the real checks in short order.
Shaheen Johnson, a sixth grader at St. Clare Catholic Academy in Rosedale, was the grand prize winner. He sold more subscriptions than any other student in the entire diocese — 34 — and won the top prize of $3,000.
“Words cannot describe how I’m feeling right now. I am so happy. This is a great accomplishment,” he said.
The fundraiser features a friendly competition in which students from schools across the diocese sell subscriptions to The Tablet for the chance to win cash prizes. The young salespeople earn money for each subscription they sell after the first three and the schools get back money for each subscription sold as well.
The contest, which ran from Sept. 26 to Oct. 6, is sponsored by DeSales Media Group, the ministry that produces The Tablet.
The second place winner, Timothy McComb, hails from Holy Child Jesus Catholic Academy in Richmond Hill. Timothy, who is in the second grade, managed to sell 23 subscriptions and was awarded $2,000.
There were two third place winners who each sold 11 subscriptions. Milan Herrera, a fifth grader at St. Joseph Catholic Academy in Astoria, and Catleya Carnakie-Brown, a sixth grader at St. Clare Catholic Academy, each won $1,000.
Shaheen and Catleya are in the same class at St. Clare’s and were happy they got to share the excitement.
After all of the totals from all of the schools were counted, it turned out that a total of 1,516 subscriptions were sold.
The enterprising children not only won cash prizes, but their hard work helped their schools win money, too.
That’s because the school selling the most subscriptions gets a $3,000 prize. There are two school winners as the Tablet established separate categories for large schools (with student enrollments of 250 or more) and small schools (with enrollments of less than 250).
Holy Child Jesus Catholic Academy in Richmond Hill, which has an enrollment of 303 students, topped the list of large schools, coming in first place with 266 subscriptions sold.
St. Clare Catholic Academy in Rosedale, where the enrollment is 204 students, was the winner for small school. Its students sold 242 subscriptions.
It was a big day for St. Clare’s, which not only won first place honors school-wide, but boasted the first and third place winners among students.
Deacon Kevin McCormack, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said he was happy with the results of the fundraiser. “The students make us proud by working hard and taking the initiative to sell the subscriptions,” he said.
The contest also has an educational component, Deacon McCormack added. “Our mission is to give children a good Catholic education and The Tablet is certainly an important part of that mission,” he said.
Alexander, who organized the fundraiser for The Tablet, said that walking into the childrens’ classrooms to surprise the winners with their giant checks is one of the best parts of his job.
Alexander admires the determination of the winning students. “I can’t tell you how rewarding and heartwarming it is to see the look on these kids’ faces when you present them with a check. It’s something they put a lot of work into,” he said.
Students at Holy Child Jesus Catholic Academy took the ball and ran with it, said Mariann Solano, an English Language Arts teacher, who served as the facilitator for her school.
“When the contest first started, I spoke to my classes first because I had the opportunity to let them know about it and try to get them motivated. As soon as they heard about it, they were excited,” she explained.
The fundraiser served another purpose, Solano said. “It’s an opportunity to evangelize, which is also what the Tablet does. And I want the children to have the opportunity to be able to pick up the newspaper, hold it, and read it, and see themselves in the paper,” she added.
Over at St. Clare Catholic Academy, Principal Providencia Quiles conducted trial runs with her students in which she and the kids rehearsed different sales techniques.
Quiles hasn’t decided how the school will spend its $3,000 winnings but said she wanted the students to be part of the decision-making process.
“They sold the subscriptions. They raised the money. They should have a say in how it is spent,” she said.
One possibility: new lockers for the school. “The students did request that,” Qulies revealed.