Fordham Prep came in first among five area Jesuit high schools competing in the Ignatian Social Justice Tournament at the Province Conference Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Fordham Prep’s project will benefit POTS (Part of the Solution), a social justice agency in the Bronx that was founded by nuns and helps needy families. The students who participated in the Fordham Prep project were awarded $20,000 to be used for their POTS-related service.
“The POTS program is so important; it is a huge factor in the community—it’s a very poor area,” John Tomsen, 17, a senior at Fordham Prep, told CNY in an April 27 phone interview. “It feels good to come through for them. We knew that any amount of money would help.”
The four other participating schools in the April 23 tournament were Loyola School, Regis High School, Fairfield Prep and Xavier High School. (All are located in Manhattan except for Fairfield Prep, which is in Connecticut.) The tournament was a student-centered initiative meant to support the organizations that each school already works with through its Christian service program, organizers said. They noted the tournament was a first-time event but not necessarily a one-time effort.
All five schools welcomed the initiative as a way to help tackle social justice issues. Organizers said a donor, Jim Rowen, gave $70,000 to sponsor the event, and so each school received part of the donation. The winner received $20,000; two second-place finishers, $15,000 each; and two third-place finishers, $10,000 each.
Paul Homer, director of the Christian service program at Fordham Prep, said Rowen is a 1982 graduate of Fordham Prep, and a former chairman of the school’s board. Homer said the Fordham Prep faculty is proud of all the participating students from the five schools. Rowen, who lives in the New York area, attended the gathering but did not speak publicly. He met with the students afterward to congratulate them on their efforts to help people in need.
Tony Oroszlany, president of Loyola School, said, “It was an opportunity for the students to come together in a collaborative effort.”
During the Ignatian Social Justice Tournament, student representatives from each school were given 10 minutes to explain why their charity or organization deserved the money, and how they would use it. The students (17 in all, and mostly upper classmen) then fielded five minutes of questions from five judges (one from each school) who selected the winners. These are the results with the amount won and the organization for which each school was competing:
• Fordham Prep: $20,000 – POTS (Part of the Solution), for needy families in the Bronx.
• Loyola School: $15,000 – Romero Center (in Camden, N.J.) for needy families in Camden.
• Regis High School: $15,000 – St. Ann’s School in Manhattan, for smart boards and other high-tech equipment for students.
• Fairfield Prep: $10,000 – Cardinal Shehan Center (Bridgeport, Conn.) for needy families in Bridgeport.
• Xavier High School: $10,000 – Kino Border Initiative, in Arizona, for social justice efforts related to immigration and the U.S.-Mexican border.