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October 10, 2013


Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold Presented the Board’s Commendation
to Aquinas Academy’s Principal, Sister Lena Picillo

(Newark, NJ) – The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders honored Aquinas Academy of Livingston for being named a 2013 “Blue Ribbon School of Excellence) by the U. S. Department of Education during its Wednesday, October 9th, meeting held at Maplewood Town Hall.  The Board’s Commendation was sponsored and presented by Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold of Livingston to Aquinas Academy’s Principal, Sister Lena Picillo.

Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold (center) of Livingston presented a commendation to Aquinas Academy Principal, Sister Lena Picillo (2nd from left), during the Board’s Wednesday, October 9th, meeting held at Maplewood Town Hall.  Also pictured above are Assistant Principal Maureen Wehrfritz (far left), Director of Preschool Gloria Castucci (far right) and Administrative Assistant Gwen Trezza (2nd from right). (Photo by Glen Frieson)

Freeholder Sebold opened the program by explaining that as a former English teacher at West Orange High School for 30 years, “you can imagine that education is very important to me, and I am always happy to hear about schools and teachers that are doing a great job of teaching their students.  Tonight, I have the honor of recognizing a school from my hometown of Livingston for doing just that!”

This year, the Department of Education named 236 public and 50 private schools across the nation as Blue Ribbon Schools, and Aquinas Academy was one of only fifteen schools in New Jersey, and one of only two in Essex County, to receive this prestigious recognition.  Further, Aquinas Academy was specifically honored in the “Exemplary High Performing” category.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has honored nearly 7,500 schools over the last 31 years, which are selected from schools nominated by the top education official in each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity, the Bureau of Indian Education, and in Aquinas Academy’s case, by the Council for American Private Education.  Aquinas Academy, which is located on South Livingston Avenue, is a Middle States-accredited Catholic school for students from Preschool through Grade 8 and is led by Principal, Sister Lena Picillo, Assistant Principal, Maureen Wehrfritz, and Pastor Thomas Nydegger.

“On behalf of the entire Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders”, said Sebold, “I am delighted to present you with this Commendation and to congratulate you and your staff for the great job you’re doing.”

“Thank you ever so much, and I accept this award on behalf of our entire school community”, said Sister Picillo.  “It’s been a wonderful ride for us since September 24th, when we first learned that we were to be one of the recipients of this award.”  She went on to say, “We have a wonderful faculty, parents, and of course the heart of our school, the students, so I stand here on behalf of all of them.”

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For Additional Information:
Gary Kroessig, Public Information
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders


Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
Hall of Records - Room 558, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695