Oprah Gives St. Benedict’s Prep $500,000
by Franklyn Calle
New Jersey’s Star Ledger reported this past Sunday that Oprah Winfrey donated $500,000 to St. Benedict’s Prep of Newark as part of a charitable work where she gave out more than $1.5 million to five non-profits schools and organizations from the Newark area as portion of a nationwide gift-giving campaign.
Other organizations in Newark that received money from the donations were North Ward Center’s charter school, Integrity House (a drug-rehabilitation center building transitional housing for women), Apostle House which is a shelter from women and children, and Newark Now which as a non-profit community support organization conducts multi-faced initiatives to improve safety, economic independence and civic participation. Newark Now was founded by Newark’s Mayor Cory Booker.
St. Benedict’s headmaster, Rev. Edwin d. Leahy, credited the Mayor for having some involvement in the donations. He was quoted in the Star Ledger saying that Booker has been “working for ages to people interested in Newark and one of the people he has been talking to is Oprah.”
“It was a surprise. It was a big surprise,” Leahy told the Star Ledger. He called the grant “an enormous help at any time, but especially at this time,” when the economy is struggling and families are having a hard time financially. According to the paper, the school has an enrollment of 540 kids that make up grades 7 to 12.
The St. Benedict’s basketball team is ranked as the 3rd in the nation with an undefeated season record at 19-0. They are annually one of the top basketball programs in the country and have had an amazing and outstanding 123-5 record over the last five years. Their coach, Dan Hurley, is the son of legendary high school coach Bob Hurley who coaches at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, NJ. Dan Hurley has a 198-17 record at St. Benedict’s and his team finished ranked second in the USA Today poll last year. The number one spot was given to nobody else than his father and the St. Anthony’s squad who finished undefeated last year and were led by Rutgers’s freshmen Mike Rosario. This year’s team holds two future Longhorns (Texas) in one of the top juniors in the nation, Tristan Thompson and top ranked sophomore Myck Kabongo. Last year’s team featured Sarmado Samuels who is now at Louisville and is on his way to getting the Big East Rookie of the Year, most likely.
(AP Photo/Peter Kramer)