High Street Views Panel at Rutgers University


Malachi Hinds

(Left to right) Chrisley Alexis SY, Mr. Devionne Johnson ’18, and Fr. Edwin Leahy O.S.B, and Mr. Thomas McCabe.

“High Street Views” was a special feature panel at Rutgers University in Newark put on by its History Department to “demystify our neighbors down the street,” on Tuesday last week. The panel consisted of alumnus of St. Benedict’s Devionne Johnson ‘18, Headmaster Rev. Fr. Edwin Leahy O.S.B ‘63, and our very own Gray Section Leader Chrisley Alexis SY and was hosted by former St. Benedict’s Assistant Headmaster and current history professor at Rutgers Thomas McCabe.

Malachi Hinds
(Left to right) Emanuel Locke UDI, Dr. Jeremy Fletcher, Mr. Jonathan Groomes ’19, Akhir Crenshaw UDII, Wisnor Abbott UDII, Alexander Benanti UDI, Simeon Brown UDI, Jonathan Morales FY, and Mr. Kevin Lamb.

Before the panel started, the Gray Bee Jazz Ensemble  performed as the audience trickled in for the panel. The ensemble consisted of Emanuel Locke UDI, Akhir Crenshaw UDII, Wisnor Abbot UDII, Alexander Benanti UDI, Simeon Brown UDI, Jonathan Morales FY, and Mr. Kevin Lamb. and was directed by Dr. Jeremy Fletcher. They played four songs, including a jazz adaptation of “Havana” by Camila Cabello.  

The panel started with a brief history of St. Benedict’s. Going back to the 1860’s when the school was first founded, McCabe touched on the atmosphere of Newark at the time by asking Fr. Ed the environment of High Street. Aligning with the theme of black history in February,  Fr. Ed spoke on the advancements that blacks were making at the time. It was a time of revolutionizing and embracing black culture that marked the 1960’s in High Street and in Newark.

Johnson and Alexis both were asked about their experience at St. Benedict’s; their answers had a lot in common. Both recalled their initial reluctance to go to the school freshman year, and their growing affection for SBP as they grew and finished high school.

 McCabe told a story of when the producer of the television show “60 Minutes” asked him if the school should have a segment on the show. The answer was simple. “Go to the school, meet Fr.Ed, talk to the students, and you’ll have your answer.” A year later, millions of people tuned in to learn just a little about the nuts and bolts of St. Benedict’s Prep. 

The audience of about 50 people had many questions and were interested in the message that St. Benedict’s delivers to its students. The main question of the night was, “Can what Benedict’s do be made global?” The panelist all took a stab at this question with Alexis, remarking that no other school in the country has a staff “crazy” enough to put students in charge of the school day and extracurricular events. Fr. Ed reiterated that St. Benedict is rooted in experimentation, trial, and error. “Trying new things until something sticks, and sticking with it,” Fr. Ed remarked.