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'You Have a Rightful Place at St. Benedict's Prep'

The Class of '64 bonds with the Girls Prep Division

Members of the Class of '64 with the Girls Prep Division in 2022

More than 7,600 miles and a world away from Newark, N.J. sits Haller Park, a wildlife refuge of forest, grasslands and ponds in Mombasa, Kenya. Remarkably, this lush preserve where giraffes and buffaloes freely roam is a former limestone quarry “a monstrous five-hundred acre scar where almost nothing every grew,” co-authors Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams recount in The Book of Hope: A Survival for Trying Times. The extraordinary restoration of the park to its natural state is one of many stories shared by Goodall to encourage optimism in times of suffering and strife, and to demonstrate that ordinary people can affect positive change. “We all have this fighting spirit,” Goodall writes. “We can try to nurture it, give it a chance to spread its wings and fly out into the world giving other people hope and courage.”

Don Gerberg ’64 read The Book of Hope shortly after its publication in 2021 and was inspired by Goodall’s message and personal story of persistence. He sent copies to his granddaughters and when he saw Headmaster Fr. Edwin Leahy, O.S.B. ’63 at the annual Senior Alumni Luncheon in Spring Lake, Gerberg suggested gifting a copy to every member of Girls Prep Division senior class. He was convinced Goodall’s story would resonate with female Gray Bees, and demonstrate to the growing Division, “How rich St. Benedict’s history is and how extensive the greater Gray Bee alumni network is that young women are now a part of.”

When Fr. Edwin responded positively to Gerberg’s idea, the alumnus reached out to two classmates, Kevin Moore ’64 and Art San Filippo ’64 to get the project off the ground. Moore knew a bit about turning good ideas into actual programs at The Hive. In 2010, he retired from a 40+ year career that spanned the U.S. Navy and private consulting, and devoted a year to St. Benedict’s Prep. He lived in Leahy House, worked in the Advancement Office, taught a few classes and formed close relationships with students and faculty that continue to this day. Moore thought Associate Headmaster of Academics Michelle Tuorto H’16 would enthusiastically support the project (he was correct) and help shepherd it through. With support inside The Hive, the three class members got busy raising money for the project. The Class of 1964 responded generously to the ask, raising enough money to gift a copy of The Book of Hope to every senior class member and then some.

Gerberg, accompanied by his wife, daughters and granddaughters, San Filippo and Brian Froelich ’64 attended Convocation on November 4, 2022, after which the books were presented. “Today you are St. Benedict’s and will always be part of a unique and wonderful heritage,” Gerberg stated in the address to the Girls Prep Division. “Our world needs women like you. Dr. Goodall hopes you will succeed. The Class of 1964 wants you to succeed. And St. Benedict’s expects you to succeed. As Fr. Ed is known to say, ‘Go for it.’”

Senior Group Leader Sarha Flores ’23 expressed gratitude on behalf of the class. “As the seniors of a somewhat newly established and still growing Division of St. Benedict’s Prep, we appreciate all of the support of the Class of 1964 so that we may continue to create community among extraordinary young women.” Moore too, is also pleased with the bond that’s been established. “It felt like a good initiative to close the loop between older alumni and this class of young women,” he explained. “We had our own experience going through the School and this was a way to close ranks with the Division. It’s our way of saying, ‘We believe you have a rightful place at St. Benedict’s Prep. This is the best way we can express it.”  

The Class of 1964 plans to continue the program for the Classes of 2024, 2025 and 2026.



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