The Freshman Year at St. Benedict's Prep is an intense and demanding 11-month program designed to prepare a young man to be successful in his high school years.
The whole student body of St. Benedict's gathers for a five-week session of half-day classes during July. For the members of the Freshman Class, the session begins with the five-day Overnight. The 140 Freshmen from 40 or more towns, 60 or more schools, and many different racial and economic backgrounds begin the challenge of discovering the unity that will characterize their class for the next four — years and beyond. The Freshman Class is divided into 18 "colors" of about eight students each, with an older student acting as counselor for the week. Meals are taken "family style" in the dining room as each student takes a turn being the waiter for his color, setting the table, serving the food, and clearing up afterward. A full day of academic classes, homework, and physical education ends with a well-deserved rest on the floor of Shanley Gymnasium in sleeping bags. Food is plentiful and high in quality. Getting to know the other Freshmen, learning to work with each other, and developing unity in order to meet the week's demands are the essential part of the program. Freshmen meet faculty members and older students, discover Benedict's proud history and traditions, learn the school songs, and enjoy the good feeling that comes from a hard job well done in the company of good friends.
Freshmen soon find that much study is necessary to do well in classes, and much practice is necessary to do well in athletics, drama, or other school activities. Nonessential habits like watching television, talking on the telephone, or "hanging out on the corner with the guys" simply get in the way of success in school. Even jobs are a distraction for most students.Eating a good breakfast and a healthy lunch and getting plenty of sleep and some vigorous exercise are important ingredients to success. Intelligence, native ability, and good skills are not nearly as important as the ability to work hard every day, be on time for every class, and never miss a day of school. These are the ingredients for success at St. Benedict's — in the classroom, on the stage, on the playing field. For many Freshmen, this represents a difficult adjustment of values and a considerable change from their former habits.
At the end of the Freshmen Year, during May, Freshmen once again spend an entire week together. This time there is no comfortable gym floor to sleep on — students are in tents. And there is no professional cook to attend to their needs. Freshman team members take turns cooking for one another, preparing food they have carried on their backs. The Backpacking Project is a five-day trek over 55 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of Northwestern New Jersey. Freshmen form themselves into 16 teams of eight members each and elect a leader from among themselves. Four such teams make a "company" that is led by specially trained older students, first-aiders, and adults. Three weeks of intense training precede the week on the trail so that Freshmen are prepared for whatever might happen during their adventure. It turns out that hiking for a week is not hard at all, but being with your friends night and day is not so easy to do! As the Freshmen arrive at the Delaware Water Gap and cross the bridge to meet the buses at Route 80, five tiring days and 55 long miles from High Point State Park, their adventure of Freshman Year has ended.
St. Benedict’s Preparatory School
520 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
Newark, NJ 07102-1314