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Church Invites Students to Be Cooks and Diners

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Andrew Sosanya

Veteran church member Caroline Farley talks to Senior Rodrigo Saldana.

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Church Hosts Honor Roll Banquet for Leahy House Students

The Church of Presentation of Saddle River, NJ hosted a banquet to honor 15 Leahy House students who made the honor roll and invited 11 students to cook gourmet meals for the students and attendees.

The idea for the banquet sprung after parish leader Michael O’Brien wanted to get involved with Benedict’s after watching the documentary “The Rule”. He toured the school with fellow parishioners and then contacted Assistant Headmaster Michael Scanlan to brainstorm ways that the Church could get involved with the school, according to Director of Leahy House Mike Steadman.

“It would be special if we could get students out of their day-to-day environment, so we decided to put on a dinner at Presentation,” said Mr. O’Brien.

Head of Presentation’s food ministry Chef Pamela Nedelkoff saw the opportunity to have students learn to cook gourmet meals.

“I thought [cooking] was a way to get together and share experiences and maybe ignite some culinary aspirations within the community,” said Chef Nedelkoff.

From the hors d’oeuvres to the main course, students cooked all the meals for the 60+ attendees. Chef Pamela Nedelkoff. The ‘chefs’ learned and executed the all the recipes, such as chicken caprese and mandarin salad, in a mere 5 hours.

Before the dinner, students had a chance to mingle with parishioners. Senior Bayron Morales said that meeting the parishioners was the highlight of his week.

“I expected dinner, but I got more than that tonight…I met wonderful people and made connections,” said Bayron.

John Corcoran, a member of Presentation for 31 years, said that he delighted to interact with the students.

“I didn’t realize how much [they] really knew about the school and how well [they] were able to interact with people twice [their] age, like me,” said Mr. Corcoran.

Michael O'Brien, who organized the banquet for Leahy House students, mingles with UDIIs Nicholas Black, Dayln Woody and Micheal Periera (from left to right).

Andrew Sosanya
Michael O’Brien, who organized the banquet for Leahy House students, mingles with UDIIs Nicholas Black, Dayln Woody and Micheal Periera (from left to right).

The Church of Presentation and the donations of its parishioners funded the banquet for students. The parishioners also brought an array of desserts for the honorees such fudge brownies, cookies, and cannolis.

The banquet concluded with seniors Scott Bamberg and Magnum Phelps speaking to attendees about their journeys to becoming Benedict’s men. Scott spoke about his progression from being a follower to a senior leader. Magnum spoke about learning to trust others and see his peers as brothers instead of enemies.

“The two of them were able to capture two completely different perspectives of the school,” said Mr. Corcoran.

For the students, both cooks and diners, the experience was eye-opening.

For many, it was their first time making a meal without the microwave. UDI Carlos Acosta said his favorite dish was the pot roast with vegetables and mushrooms that he cooked.

“It was cool because I never cooked for myself or anyone else,” said Carlos.

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Church Invites Students to Be Cooks and Diners