Upper School students mentor fourth, fifth graders at annual Camp Cornelia in New York City

By James McEvoy
Two Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child Upper School students joined their counterparts from other Holy Child Network schools to mentor incoming fourth and fifth graders at the ninth annual Camp Cornelia in New York last month.
Tara McTague ’20, of Madison, and Isabella Henry ’21, of Berkeley Heights, taught a variety of subjects and prepared students for school in the fall during the camp from July 6-14 at Cornelia Connelly Center, located on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. The camp provides middle-school education to girls in grades 5 to 8 from low-income families.

Faculty advisers, Upper School history teacher Zohra Ismail and Upper School theology teacher Michele Calamari, both lauded the students for their dedication throughout the week.

“Isabella and Tara did a wonderful job working with the students at the center, adapting their lessons to fit the needs of the campers,” Calamari said. “Additionally, they made lasting friendships with students from other Holy Child high schools throughout the country.

“I believe the experiences Isabella and Tara had at Camp Cornelia were transformative, and they have gained insights about poverty and justice that they will always carry with them,” Calamari added.

Ismail said she especially enjoyed connecting with her fellow Holy Child educators.

“We had so much in common and I feel a bond and sisterhood there,” Ismail said.

Henry said several highlights contributed to the week being one of the best parts of her summer.

“It’s hard to choose what my favorite part of the camp was,” Henry said, adding she appreciated the bond she was able to develop with the other Holy Child students.

“I met truly amazing girls who have changed my life for the better, and I know I will forever be close with them,” she said. “Despite how far we all live from each other, whether it be 3,000, 300 or 30 miles, these girls have made a mark on me and will forever live in my heart.”

The camp was also a learning experience, she said.

“I learned about many of the struggles these girls endure at such a young age, and it truly opened my eyes at how lucky I am to have the opportunity to go to Oak Knoll,” Henry said. “It truly made me appreciate life and what God has provided for me so much more.”

McTague said they quickly grew close to their students and fellow camp counselors.

“The rising fourth and fifth graders were sweet and always eager to learn. We taught them some key character strengths including zeal, composure and perseverance,” McTague said. “It was very hard to say goodbye to the girls on the last day.”

In addition to teaching, McTague said she enjoyed taking in some New York sights with chaperones, including the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial.

Joining McTague and Henry were students from four other Holy Child high schools, including Connelly School of the Holy Child, in Potomac, Maryland; Cornelia Connelly School, in Anaheim, California; Mayfield Senior School, in Pasadena, California; and School of the Holy Child Rye, in New York.
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Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child is a Catholic independent school coeducational from kindergarten to grade 6 and all girls in grades 7 to 12. Oak Knoll was founded in 1924 and is one of 10 schools in the Holy Child Network of Schools that provides independent Catholic education across the United States.


44 Blackburn Road
Summit, NJ 07901
Phone: (908) 522-8100
Email  the Lower School (coed, K-6)
Email the Upper School (all-girls, 7-12)
© Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child 2019