Alumni Gift Opportunities

Giving Tuesday

#GivingTuesday has become an international movement to bring attention to how people participate in giving and encourage philanthropy. During GivingTuesday 2015 over 700,000 people in more than 70 countries took part in this celebration of generosity including GSB alumni. Thanks to the support of former GSB students, the school reached an unprecedented rate for alumni participation during the 2015-2016 fiscal year that kicked off with GivingTuesday. We are excited to see how high it will go with our second effort.
This year the next generation of alumni preparing for life after Gill St. Bernard’s are leading the charge. They realize GSB is a special place in part because of the people who came before them to make it what it is now. Join the seniors for the 50/50 Challenge on #GivingTuesday, November 29. The goal is to get 50 seniors to make a gift and challenge at least 50 alumni to match with a gift to the school for #GivingTuesday. It does not matter how you choose to allocate your donation or the amount, the key is to make a donation. If you are active on social media we hope you will consider sharing this message to help us get to our goal by including the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #AlumniPayItForward.

#GivingTuesday began in 2012 when the 92nd Street Y, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, made the decision to focus on creating a new way of connecting individuals and causes to strengthen communities and encourage giving. In the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become synonymous with holiday shopping, #GivingTuesday, which takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is meant to create a powerful moment of giving.
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Kaitlyn Sleyster lives by the motto, “Give love away.” She believes that we all have the ability to make someone’s day better through positive words or acts of kindness. When Kaitlyn reflects on her time at GSB, she remembers how much she admired the theater program as a student in the Middle School. She explains, “As a freshman, I was not sure what to expect, but the students really embraced me for who I am. I still have a connection to many of those students. It was a real defining moment for me and explains why the community here is special.” In addition to being involved in the theater, Kaitlyn is the president of the student body, a member of the choir, a member of the Give Something Back (GSB) Club and a manager for girls’ lacrosse. “I like being an active participant and that has led me to take on leadership positions. I love that during my time at Gill, I have been able to step outside of my comfort zone, become an active participant and grow into a leader.”   
Two years ago, Kelly Schiesswohl transferred to Gill from her local public high school when she struggled to find the tools necessary to help herself with math. She found the assistance and guidance she was looking for at GSB instantly, saying “Teachers put their hand on your shoulder and assure you that you’re not walking this road alone.” Community also took on a whole new meaning for Kelly as she joined the theatre – where she is the leading lady in the fall play – became a co-founder of Gill for Diversity, serves as an active member in the GSB Gay Straight Alliance, has been a student government representative, and joined all extra-curricular choirs. In her short time here, Kelly has truly woven herself into the fabric of GSB and learned the importance of leaving a legacy once she graduates. “We have been taught the values of giving back, and it’s important to show the teachers who they’ve helped me become. Giving back now and in the future honors their part in our development.”
Jennifer Lowe came to GSB as a freshman, following in the footsteps of her older brother Jack. She immediately became part of the athletic community on campus playing soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse. Though she is often found on the turf field – one of her favorite places on campus - she has also become an active member of a variety of other groups including Reading Buddies, Gill for Diversity, the G.S.B. (Give Something Back) Club and book club. Four years ago, Jennifer was immediately impressed by the sense of caring and community she found here at Gill, where the teachers, in particular, are always available to help students academically, socially and with time management. Indeed, she remarks that the thing she will miss the most when she graduates is “Turkey Day! It’s such a great day with the whole school in such good spirits, working together for such a worthy cause. It’s another instance of us helping each other and giving back at the same time.”
Coaches can have a profound impact on their players, and that’s been the case for Coach Tony Bednarsky and Andres Gonzalez. Andres has been playing for Coach Bednarsky since he was 6 years old, but came to play for him at Gill as a ninth grader. Once arriving at GSB as a student, Andres was struck by the sense of community he found both on the field and in the classroom. “The small size of the classes allow the teachers to take an active role in our success.” Andres has been actively involved outside of soccer as well, as a member of the Honor Board, a Peer Leader, a Student Ambassador, a member of the Model UN and the G.S.B. (Give Something Back) Club. All of these activities, and the community-centric feel of GSB, have helped shape Andres’ desire to continue to give back to his school even after his graduation. “I will miss the thing I love most about the school when I leave – the relationships.”
During the past 15 years Mary Frances (Mary Fran) Howard has known Gill St. Bernard’s School to be her home away from home. While she noted she has grown very comfortable in a community where everyone knows each other, she is very enthusiastic about attending Wake Forrest University next year. She admits one of the things she loves most about the GSB community is the helpfulness she has witnessed over the years. Mary Fran shared, “People really do go above and beyond to make things happen for others here and I know I will miss that next year.” Some of her activities include Relay for Life, fencing, Honor Board, peer leaders, book reviewer and tour guide. Mary Fran noted, “All of these years my parents have participated in the school and I feel like they have given so much on my behalf. Now it’s my time to step up and start giving back.”
When looking back at the past four years as a student, Christian St. Germaine has learned a great deal about balance. Christian participates in a variety of clubs and activities: hockey, golf, robotics, EMT First Aid Squad, Honor Board, fishing club and peer leaders. When asked about what he thinks he will miss most, he talked about the relationships he has developed with students and teachers. “The teachers here make a real impact. They don’t just push you to be better students or better athletes they push you in a way that makes you a better person.” He felt his relationships with classmates were equally noteworthy commenting on their sense of compassion. Christian was also asked about his decision to be a part of fundraising for his class. He explained, “There’s something special about Gill. I’ve been given so much here and it seems only fair to give back. Hopefully, one day I will be able to come back and give back in a really big way.”
Jack Riccardo remembered visiting GSB as a perspective student for the middle school. He said, “I just knew there was something about Gill. I could see myself here and knew it was the right fit for me.” Over the past six years Jack has participated in a variety of activities including Relay for Life, fencing, Gay/Straight Alliance, Gill for Diversity and the Writing Center. During that time he has come to love that GSB is a community where people can feel comfortable talking to anyone. It’s not about being a part of a certain clique, you can feel comfortable being who you are. When asked about going on to college he mentioned that he has developed a true appreciation for the many opportunities he has had at Gill that would not have been possible at another school. Jack noted, “I will miss how teachers are involved in every aspect of the GSB experience not just academics.”
Allison Coffey joined GSB in the ninth grade, eager to jump into sports. She played basketball, lacrosse and cross country before she had to step back as a result of suffering multiple concussions. Allison has always been an active member of the GSB community through student government, TED X, Honor Board and G.S.B. (Give Something Back) Club. Allison shared, “Gill has given me the opportunity to challenge myself to not only achieve my goals, but to surpass my expectations of what I thought I could accomplish.” While Allison reflects on the beautiful campus she is able to experience every day, she admits there is something about the atmosphere at GSB. She explains, “When I attended public school I thought going to a private school would mean constant competition. The reality is that everyone has been very positive and we work together to support each other.”
Gill St. Bernard’s is a private, coeducational day school for students age three through grade 12, located in suburban New Jersey. Each of the three school divisions provides a vigorous, meaningful and age-appropriate curriculum, and all students benefit from the environmental learning opportunities that exist on our 208-acre campus.