As freshman year drew to a close for the Class of 2023, 18 members of the class were recognized with Freshman Magis Awards.
The award recipients were nominated by their classmates and teachers, and selected by a committee of faculty and staff members. The awards recognize freshmen who have emerged as leaders among their class, striving to do more in their lives as part of the Prep community.
Pictured above are, left to right:
- Top row: Horace Elijah Anderson, Rishi Bhandari, Noah Bisrat Fesseha, Gian Cases, Matt Corwin, Jon Dereka
- Middle row: Arjun Dhawan, Mossimo Infante-Meehan, Vipul Kothakonda, Bobby Leon, Jr., Lee Mara, Teddy McCarthy
- Bottom row: Michael Preite, Etienne Servaes, Kevin Shull, Nicholas Skabich, Jones Swift, Kyle Torrente
Read the text of the award presentations below, and learn more about this year’s Magis Award honorees!
The ability to lift the spirits of those around you is what makes this freshman stand out in the class. Although quiet at a first meeting, he has made an impression on his peers. One said: “he always gets good grades, great study habits, always willing to help others. all around a great student and friend” A teacher commented on his excellent writing ability, and a friend said that he has the ability to influence others in a positive way. For these reasons and more, we proudly present a Magis Award to this student from Jersey City, Horace “Eli” Anderson.
A person who takes time out of his day, willingly and freely, to help others, is how this student was described by his peers. His coach said: “He is a very dedicated person, always willing to do whatever I asked of him as a coach. He joined our team later than most of his teammates, but that did not stop him from working hard and making an impact in our County Title. Though his schedule could be demanding at times, he always communicated with me and made sure he was there for our team.” Kindness and dedication are a constant theme in the nominations for this student. For these reasons and more, we proudly present a Magis Award to this student from Nutley, Rishi Bhandari.
This student has enjoyed success on the athletic field, the court, and in the classroom. In spite of a busy schedule, he’s available to give good advice and support to those around him. He’s also well known as a student who loves Prep and is proud to be part of the community here. As one friend said: “He can always be relied upon, but especially when you are having a hard time.” For these reasons and more, a Magis Award is given to this student from West New York, Noah Bisrat Fesseha.
To stand out in a class of over 200 students is impressive. A peer wrote: “Out of the entire class of 2023, he is the person who I have seen focus most greatly on his studies. I believe he has a good balance between his studies and his interaction with other people and activities at Prep.” His Latin teacher wrote:
“He’s an exemplary student who works very well with others in a down-to-earth way.” For these reasons and more, we proudly present a Magis Award to this student from Belleville, Gian Cases.
“Because he embodies what a Prep student should be” is high praise indeed. All the nominators for this student mentioned his kindness and respect for others. One student said: “I am nominating him because he is a very outgoing person who is willing to make new friends and talk to other students. Also, I find him to be a loving person who is compassionate and listens to others with respect.” For these reasons and more, a Magis Award is given to this student from Rutherford, Matt Corwin.
Being well-respected by your teammates, not just for your athletic ability, but for your leadership skills, is exceptional and commendable. One peer said: ” When I was in need of some help he was always there for me no matter what time of the day it was. He has a cool, calm, and collected personality that really makes him a great person. He is very understanding and willing to do whatever will help” A coach also cited his great sense of humor and ability to lighten the mood. For these reasons and more, a Magis Award is given to this student from Metuchen, Jon Dereka.
It is telling that several students described this freshman as their best friend. Perhaps it is because of his friendly and open nature, which includes, not excludes. He works hard in and out of the classroom and has sought to broaden his horizons by taking advantage of the cultural opportunities at Prep. A friend said: “He is very social and involved at Prep. He is dedicated to his work and he will help others if they are struggling. He is friendly, easy to approach, and very accepting. ” For these reasons and more, we proudly present a Magis Award to this student from Guttenberg, Arjun Dhawan.
The large number of nominations and the sentiments expressed for this student were very consistent. One nominator said: “He was a prime example of being a man or others, whenever someone needed help with something he would be the first one to offer it. He was a good ambassador for any freshman for a day that he came across and he would always volunteer to try new things and to help out the community in any way.” Another friend wrote about how this student helped him come out of his shell by being kind and friendly. A teacher said: “He supports his peers and participates in the Prep community. He always has a smile and a greeting for everyone.” For these reasons and more, we proudly present a Magis Award to this student from Gillette, Mossimo Infante-Meehan.
Being open to growth is, as all Prep men know, one of the cornerstones of Jesuit education. Taking his academics seriously and pushing himself to go beyond what it expected is also a trait of this student. He does all this with a great sense of humor, says one teacher. A peer said: “He is a caring person who helps anyone he can.” For these reasons and more, a Magis Award is given to the student from Nutley, Vipul Kothakonda.
Staying on task and being consistent is a valuable life skill. This student has demonstrated that, while interested in having fun, he’s diligent and focused when it comes to his classwork, clubs and sports. He is known as a truly good and kind person who is open-minded, and as one peer said: “I nominate him because he is very smart and kind in the classroom, and in the hallways as well. If anyone ever needs help, he gives a tip and there’s never a time when he isn’t happy.” A faculty member observed him helping with an Admissions event and said: “This young man impressed me with his focus, his dedication and love for Prep. He truly appreciates his being a member of our Prep family. Despite a long commute, he always looks forward to everyday at Prep. His work ethic is exemplary, with a wisdom and sense of responsibility beyond his years.” For these reasons and more, we proudly present a Magis Award to this student from Basking Ridge, Bobby Leon, Jr.
Humility and a low-key approach to life are characteristics of this freshman. A talented athlete, he is known as a great teammate both on and off the field. One classmate said: “He helps me with my work, not by giving me the answers but by helping me understand what we were learning. He is an excellent role model.” For these reasons and more, we proudly present a Magis Award to this student from Kearny, Lee Mara.
The best student ambassadors are those who really love their school and want everyone to experience what they have. This student was one of the most enthusiastic in the freshman for a day room, and could always be counted on to be attentive to his eighth grader. He’s also a great teammate. His coach said:
“He was such a strong presence for our freshman team and is a natural born leader in so many ways. He carries himself in such a mature and positive way. He is also a very kind young man. He always seemed to include everyone on the team, and never had a bad word to say about his peers. I am confident that he has has a bright future ahead of him at Saint Peter’s.” For these reasons and more, a Magis Award is given to this student from Ho-Ho-Kus, Teddy McCarthy.
It’s high praise when a Prep teacher says “I wish more students were like him.” This may be for his dedication, his commitment to his studies, and his quiet yet thoughtful manner. Recently, this student was commended for helping classates who were having trouble adjusting to remote learning. One peer said:
“He has always been there for me and exemplifies many qualities of how a student here at Prep should be. He’s very considerate, thoughtful, and is there if his friends need help with anything.” For these reasons and more, a Magis Award is given to this student from Mountainside, Michael Preite.
Some students seem to be everywhere you look at Prep, as their involvement spans so many activities. This is such a student, who has a hand in many clubs and activities. A peer said: “He is ambitious and principled, and is willing to step outside his comfort zone.” A teacher observed: “He is incredibly detail-oriented, resilient, and a critical thinker.” For these reasons and more, we proudly present a Magis Award to this student from Guttenberg, Etienne Servaes.
Mastering a tough Chemistry Honors class is a great accomplishment and this student was a huge help to his peers in aiding their understanding of complex material. One said: “He is an enthusiastic and friendly person, and he also helps others when they are in need. I remember him helping me study for my Chem test really late at night and never thinking twice about it.” He is a key member of the Robotics Club and dedicates many hours to sports as well, while still maintaining excellent grades, and equally important, being committed to the school he came to love through the HAP Program. For these reasons and more, a Magis Award is given to this student from Jersey City, Kevin Shull.
The ability to debate and discuss issues, while still respecting others, is rare in today’s world. A student wrote: “He is a good man, open to diversity of thought and conversation. Whether or not we agree on subject matter, he always has enough reason and understanding to converse and debate. I find diversity of thought hard to come by these days in our very polarized world, especially with teenagers.” A teacher also noted: “I’m particularly impressed with his enthusiasm for social justice. In class he’s motivated and positively connected to his peers.” For these reasons and more, a Magis Award is given to this student from Clifton, Nicholas Skabich.
Balancing acts can be difficult, especially when one participates in several demanding sports. This student, in spite of his busy schedule, makes time for others. A nominator wrote: “He helps me to become better as a person, physically and mentally. He is always pushing me to work out with him, he is supportive and patient.” His coach added: ” For many freshmen, it can be easy to join a team and quickly lose focus or dedication once the grueling schedule begins. For him, this was never the case. He constantly worked hard every day, strove to be the best he could be for his teammates, coaches, and for himself. For these reasons and more, a Magis Award is given to this student from Hoboken, Jones Swift.
Dedication in the classroom is second nature to this student. Many remarked about how helpful he is to other students who may at times struggle with material. Never too busy to lend a hand, his determination to learn inspires others around him. His kind nature was remarked upon by many. One teacher said: “An exemplary student who’s always setting a positive tone and looking out for classmates. I relied on him regularly to bring high effort, engagement and congeniality to class.” Another teacher summed it up, simply saying he might be “the nicest human at Prep.” For these reasons and more, a Magis Award is given to this student from Jersey City, Kyle Torrente.