Working Together for a Bright Future

District honors Giraffe Heroes in 17th annual ceremony

Twelve Vineland Public Schools elementary and middle school students were honored on May 15 as "Giraffe Heroes" for "having big hearts, sticking their necks out to help others, and for being persistent in pursuing their goals."

The 17th annual ceremony was held at the Landis Administrative Offices. Parents and other family members of the "Giraffe Heroes," along with staff members from each of the schools, attended. Host and presenter was Deana Ridolfo, Supervisor of Guidance, Testing, Homeless and School Transitions.

This year’s recipients included: Jiya Patel, Barse Elementary School; Angel Rivera, Veterans Memorial Intermediate School; Paola Gutierrez, Sgt. Dominick Pilla Middle School; Danica Newcomb, Petway Elementary School; Kimberly Gonzalez, Wallace Middle School; Julian Barrera, Sabater Elementary School; Zachary Zavis, Winslow Elementary School; Oluwatomisin “Michelle” Akinyoade, Rossi Elementary School; Sofia Amato, Johnstone School; Nicholas Guaciaro, Mennies Elementary School; Riley Rizzo, D’Ippolito Elementary School; and Marely Garcia Flores, Durand Elementary School.

The "Giraffe Hero Project" is a district character education initiative. Vineland's elementary and middle school counselors visit classrooms and conduct "Giraffe" lessons, with the goal of inspiring students to use the giraffe metaphor to be courageous and stick their necks out for the common good; to be caring and big of heart; to be helpful when they see a problem; and to persist until the problem is solved.

Ridolfo said the elementary and middle schools all have a character education program, and these awards are the result of students who go above and beyond the expected good behavior. The program encourages the students to "stick their neck out", to work towards a common goal, and look out for their classmates.

At the ceremony, guidance counselors, teachers and administrators from each of the schools read a short narrative about the student selected for the award while proud parents and family members listened attentively. All the winners were described as well-behaved and helpful in class, attentive to the needs of others, showed a willingness to accept responsibility, and contributed to their community with volunteerism in a broad range of school and community activities.

Elementary school students received a certificate of recognition and a stuffed giraffe from John Frangipani, Assistant Superintendent and Nathan Frey, Assistant Superintendent. Middle school students received a certificate and a plaque. Also in attendance were board member F. John Sbrana and former board member Chris Jennings.

The ceremony was recorded by VPS Broadcasting and will air on Comcast Channel 9 and Verizon FiOS Channel 41, as well as our YouTube channel, later this week.

Gallery of photos:

Please click the following link to read the narratives for each student: