Bay Ridge

Fontbonne Hall starts guest speaker circuit to empower students

March 5, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Emily Raleigh, founder and CEO of Smart Girls Group, speaks to students in the classroom. Photo courtesy Fontbonne Hall Academy
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Fontbonne Hall Academy students have been exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints, thanks to the school’s Guest Speaker Circuit, a new program in which speakers are invited to the school to share tips on how to get ahead.

“We are proud to have established the ‘Guest-Speaker Circuit’ as it opens educational opportunities for our students and community to which they may not have otherwise been exposed. We hope to expand this opportunity, not only within our Fontbonne community, but also to the greater Bay Ridge community thus continuing and building upon Fontbonne’s long-established presence here,” Principal Mary Ann Spicijaric said.

The guests are usually experts in a variety of fields who address students either in class, in an assembly format or after school. Fontbonne Hall Academy is a Catholic high school for girls located on Shore Road and 99th Street in Bay Ridge.

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One recent speaker, Emily Raleigh, a Fordham University junior and founder/CEO of “Smart Girls Group,” won a grant from the Kenneth Cole Foundation. Her organization’s mission is to empower young women to “find their smarts.” Her appearance at Fontbonne was sponsored by the National Honor Society.

Another guest speaker, Dr. Gerarda Shields, is a Fontbonne graduate who spoke to the seniors about her career as a professor of engineering at Manhattan College.

Amantha Chery, a recent Fontbonne graduate, advised seniors on what they need to do know to survive college, including the importance of internships. She also discussed her career path and her current position at 1010WINS.

Savannah Fox from Amnesty International described what Amnesty International is and how the seniors can get involved in the organization.

The senior class year-coordinators, Jenna Caufield and Laura Barton, organized several of the programs, including an appearance by Pamela Esposito-Amery of the ovarian cancer advocacy organization Tell Every Amazing Lady (TEAL), who spoke about the warning signs of ovarian cancer.

Lace Kirk, aunt of current senior Angel Elcock, will come to Fontbonne within the next few weeks to speak to the senior class about her career at the criminal justice system.

Bonnies for Health, a program moderated by School Nurse Fran Essex, hosted an appearance by Jenny Hancher who spoke about The ENPOWR Project. ENPOWR stands for Endometriosis Nation Promoting Outreach and Wide Recognition. Science teacher Laura Baron co-hosted the program.

This month, two school-wide assemblies are being scheduled. One will host John Halligan, known for his presentation of “Ryan’s Story” which carries an anti-bullying message. The other will feature British author Katherine Preston whose best-seller, “Out With It,” addresses the importance of overcoming obstacles.


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