ONLINE EXTRA: Meet The Vox Fellows
Most model schools put the adults in charge when administrators and teachers from other institutions come to visit. St. Benedict’s Prep does things differently. The Vox Fellows — a select group of Prep Division students — play a pivotal role, whether its hosting teams who visit The Hive through the Vox Institute, planning itineraries, or leading group exercises for ongoing partners. Executive Director Glenn Cassidy, Ed.D. ’90 said the decision to establish the Vox Fellows was a very intentional one. "We want the Vox Institute to operate very much like the School does, where students are involved and take ownership of what’s going on," explained Cassidy.
David Rahaman ’20, Group Leader of Fr. Cornelius Selhuber, O.S.B., oversees the Vox Fellows, which numbered four this academic year. He’s interacted with many school leaders and often sees a range of reactions among visitors he shows around the School. “The hardest thing for people to comprehend is that the students run the School,” he said. “They’re pretty shocked,” agreed Giuseppe Loiacano ’21, a member of the National Honor Society, who also serves as a Vox Fellow. “They have no idea that the School is run by students with faculty supervision.”
In addition to educating visitors on St. Benedict’s four tenets — student leadership, experiential learning, counseling and community — Vox Fellows say they’ve gained a greater appreciation for The Hive. “When other schools tell us what their school is like, it makes you realize that what we have at Benedict’s is really special,” said David. “Fr. Ed always says, ‘We’re a light in the City of Newark,’ and when people come and visit, that’s when it really shows.”
After a visit to a school in Baltimore, “I really appreciated the things our school does for us,” said Giuseppe. “We’re given respect, a lot of responsibility and are treated like adults. I know if I went back to my old public school, I wouldn’t be given the same respect or responsibility.”
The most important mindset Vox Fellows hope visitors take away from St. Benedict’s is, “Never do for students what they can do for themselves.”
“Don’t be afraid of giving students responsibility,” added Giuseppe. "It’s easy to think that students will be overwhelmed or won’t do well. That may be somewhat correct. But it’s interesting to see what happens when you put the responsibility on students and see what they are capable of. "Put the trust in students. They’re here to do more than sit in a classroom and take notes. They are capable of so much more.”