Mabel G’s Honor’s Day (1999)


by Rafael Román Martel

Verónica Ravello was born in the small town of Pisco, Perú, on November 18th, 1984. Jack Mandel is from Middletown, upstate New York. He was born in nineteen … well, let’s say he was around in the sixties. Ravello arrived in the United States on September 4, 1998, just as Mandel got started on his second year as principal of Holmes Middle School. Both, principal and student, American and Peruvian -two worlds apart- had no idea that, through education, they would shake hands on a cold winter morning this past February 25.

“It’s about dignity, it’s all about dignity now” underlined Jack Mandel proudly with a firm voice. Behind him a group of students belonging to the Honor Roll quietly walked through the hallways, carrying the Mabel G. Holmes flag and Honor Roll signs. A look of expectation, of youthful anxiety ran deep in their eyes, as they serenely entered the school’s auditorium to be recognized as scholars by their principal, parents, Vice Principal, Pamela Pullen-The Soul of Mabel G. Holmes- and other staff.

Inside, parents awaited, perhaps unknowingly, sharing Mr. Mandel’s feeling; for relatives and principal shared a similar sensation: pride.

“I’m a very proud principal” said Mr. Mandel opening the ceremony. “When parents get involved in the lives of their children, children do better in school. This is a research-based fact.”

He explained that only 20% of the waking time of children is spent in school, the equivalent of 1/5 of their day. “The rest is spent in your house, that’s why your most important teacher is your parent”, he said, addressing the honorees’ friends and relatives. Then, turning to his students: “You are what is called ‘college material.’ You have demonstrated that you can become whatever you choose to become. You need to tell your parents that they need to get more involved in your school life. Tell them to call me” he stressed. Seizing the attention of parents and children, he went on to accentuate the importance of self actualization, a term he defined as “becoming all that’s possible for you to become”, and encouraging the significance of family support in the life of children. As he spoke, a growing feeling of determination and accomplishment conspicuously traced the definition of his words.

It was time to call the students that were to be complemented. Second Honor Roll students were called first, followed by First Honor Roll students who achieved at yet, a higher level, and were awarded their certificates with the help of Ms. Antoinette Jackson, from the administration office. The Principal’s Honor Roll and the highly regarded Superintendent’s Honor Roll certificates were then presented with the assistance of guidance counselor Maria Ibieta.

The children awarded the Superin-tendent’s Honor Roll will also receive a special letter of congratulations from Thomas Dunn Jr., Elizabeth’s Superintendent of Schools.

Veronica Ravello nervously waited her turn. For the young student from Pisco, it was only her fifth month in this country. It was to be her first award in the United States. “This is very special”, she said.

“She is highly dedicated, very respectful, willing to learn. I am sure she is on her way to college” commented Mater Teacher Héctor Pardo, her bilingual teacher.

Minutes before greeting Verónica, Mr. Mandel told students: “Remember, in America we have something that sometimes we take for granted: freedom. With freedom and education you can get anything you want: Make it happen.” As the former student from Middletown, New York, who would become a school principal, acknowledged the former 7th grader from Bandera de Perú School, who now has the same opportunity to reach her goals in America, his phrase took a particularly substantiated meaning.

“This is my favorite day of the year” revealed the principal. For all who participated in this event, surely, it was a special day!


3 Responses to “Mabel G’s Honor’s Day (1999)”

  1. I believe Jack Mandel attemded Fair Lawn High School in Fair Lawn, New Jersey in 1959 or 1960. I was his friend at school and I’d like to reconnect with him if possible. I live in California and my phone number is 530-496-3633.

  2. […] order to gain their respect, and the respect of your peers at Mabel G. you had to prove yourself, among many other musts, you had to prove that you were there to be part […]

  3. […] order to gain their respect, and the respect of your peers at Mabel G. you had to prove yourself, among many other musts, you had to prove that you were there to be part […]

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