Students at St. Benedict's Prep partner with US Naval Academy for Water Advisory Challenge program
Midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy joined sophomores at St. Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark on Tuesday for the first part of their Water Advisory Challenge program.
The students took to the water where their survival skills were put to the test. School leaders say the program is part of the long-standing relationship between the school and the naval academy. It is a five-week program.
Midshipmen First Class Hannah Lowenstein says she, along with 14 other naval academy students, is bringing elements of her training to St. Benedict’s students.
“We teach them skills that we’ve learned in the academy about water, treading, swimming – anything like that,” Lowenstein says.
Father Edwin Leahy, headmaster at Benedict's Prep, says the school aims to provide the diverse student body with life skills and survival skills.
"Kids of color are five times more likely to drown than their white counterparts because they were never taught to swim,” Leahy says.
Chris Stevens, health and physical education teacher at the school, says this exercise helps bridge that gap. He says it goes beyond the physical challenge.
"You learn here you've got to be strong - playing sports and with anything in life,” he says.
Leahy says the school emphasizes personal development through exercises like the Water Adversity Challenge.
"The kids learn how to defend themselves and how to be able to speak up and become leaders,” Leahy says.
St. Benedict’s senior Joseph Ranalleta says the challenges inspire students to pursue excellence beyond graduation.
"It just helps build your confidence. Like, you know that no matter what you'll be able to continue going,” he says.
Students are also required to complete 50 miles of the Appalachian trail at the end of the school year.
Leahy says many alumni consider the adversity challenges to be some of the most formative educational experiences from their time at St Benedict’s.