Students in graduation
Senior Group Leaders Aim High

Senior Group Leaders Aim High

New leadership for Boys and Girls Prep Divisions

Sarha Flores and William Register

If the 2021-22 academic year was about rebuilding Benedict’s after 18 months of remote learning, 2022-23 is about reaching new heights. That’s the approach The Hive’s new Senior Group Leaders are taking since Summer Phase commenced on July 25. “This year will be about raising and improving our standards from where we were last year,” said Sarha Flores ’23, Senior Group Leader of the Girls Prep Division. Her counterpart in the Boys Prep Division, William Register ’23, agreed. “It’s a good time for us to implement new things to make the School better,” he stated. “We want all freshman boys to achieve membership by the end of the year. That’s something that’s never been done before. I think with strong leadership across the board, that’s something we’ll be able to do.”

     The senior leadership teams for both Divisions were named in July. A story about the new Senior Group Leaders appeared in the Union Daily News on Aug. 8. In addition to William, the seven seniors leading the Boys Prep Division are Jonathan Burgess ’23, Freshman Leader; Pedro Cena ’23, Maroon Section Leader; Marcilio Soares ’23, Blue Section Leader; Sebastian Cruz ’23, White Section Leader; Rashaun Bertand ’23, Gray Section Leader and Guitze Rodriguez ’23, Transfer Leader.

     Senior leadership for the Girls Prep Division grew from a team of four to five. Freshman Leader Lucia Gallo ’24, Black Section Leader Amberlee Castillo ’23, Garnet Section Leader Brianna Raposo '23 and Transfer Leader Samantha Richardson '23 are leading the Division alongside Sarha.

New year. New responsibilities.

In addition to overseeing the Overnight, this year’s senior leadership teams are managing two new Summer Phase intensives facilitated by Victory Road Leadership Development Group: the WAC (Water Adversity Challenge) for UDIs and the WILD (Wilderness Inspired Leadership Development) Expedition for UDIIs. “It will help us in the long run,” predicted William, even if it means student-leaders juggle greater responsibilities during Summer Phase. “Getting more leadership embedded over the summer will help classmates hold each other to a higher standard. They’ll be leading themselves in a way.”

     Sarha expects the results from additional leadership training would become apparent in Fall and Winter Terms. “If we can teach a lot about peer accountability in the early part of the year, we can keep it going for the rest of the year.”

     The senior leadership teams have worked closely with 12 midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy throughout Summer Phase. They also underwent a Leadership Reaction Course last spring, which was facilitated by Victory Road and St. Benedict’s faculty. The course is designed to vet student-leaders and help them discover and articulate the kind of leader they want to be.

Growing into leadership

     “The experience did help bring me out of my shell a little more,” said Sarha, who served as Group Leader of Pearl Coleman last year. “When you are pushed to do something, it makes you realize, ‘I could have done it the whole time.’” Sarha lives in Elizabeth and attended Benedictine Academy (BA) before joining the Girls Prep Division in 2020. A member of the CrossFit team and Race to Action, she credits her older sister, Kamily Flores ’21, the first Group Leader of Rosemary H. Anderson, with steering her towards leadership.

     English Teacher Char-lotte Searcy has known Sarha since 2019, when both began their first year at BA. Ms. Searcy is also moderator of Pearl Coleman. “Sarha has done an exceptional job,” she stated. “She’s a mature young lady who leads with her mind. Her heart follows.” Having the opportunity to watch Sarha grow into leadership the past three years, Ms. Searcy observed that the new Senior Group Leader, “is cognizant of the power of words. She knows how to motivate and inspire. Sarha also knows when to step aside and designate the role to someone else. She’s a humble child with a lot of power.”

     William hails from Hillside. He was Assistant Group Leader of Fr. Celestine Staab and takes great pride that Fr. Celestine moved from number 17 to 2 in rankings last year. “Yep. Makes sense,” was Stephanie Kranz-Santoro’s reaction upon learning William would be Senior Group Leader this year. “I’m really excited for him,” said Ms. Kranz-Santoro, mathematics chair and co-moderator of Fr. Celestine. “William has been consistently a step ahead of his peers since freshman year. His moral compass is always firmly pointed due north.”

     William, a four-year rower and captain of the crew team, appreciates the support and encouragement from faculty. “People saw a lot in me that I really didn’t see in myself. Until recently, I didn’t see myself as Senior Group Leader. I knew I had influence, but I didn’t know if I had that much influence,” he explained. “It was a realization within myself that I had to see what other people see.”