METUCHEN, NJ - Recently, Ms. Angela Dinger, representing the National Catholic Educational Association, presented James Bledsoe, St. Joseph High School Class of 2017, a medal and certificate for his dedication to community service. James was only one of ten medal winners in the country and the only winner in New Jersey.

Excerpts from Dinger's speech are used here with permission.  

"It is my pleasure to represent the National Catholic Educational Association on this momentous occasion as we celebrate and honor the work and service of James Bledsoe.  One year ago, the NCEA Board of Directors approved a plan to find and recognize those young people in our Catholic elementary and secondary schools who, through their faith, service and vision, were changing their local communities and indeed the world around them, through innovation, acts of charity, philanthropy and good old American ingenuity.

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There are two million young women and men like you that attend Catholic schools in 176 dioceses throughout the nation, you are taught by over 151,000 extraordinary teachers and support staff. As a Catholic school student, we know that 99% of you will graduate from high school and 95 to 100% of you will go onto college.

We were therefore prepared to be impressed by your work and projects; however, what we discovered has awed and inspired us far beyond our wildest expectations. Over 150 young people in our Catholic schools throughout the country were nominated by their teachers, counselors, principals, coaches and pastors. They were nominated for their projects and programs that impacted the lives and fortunes of people, young and old.

Out of 150 plus applications, ten young women and men were selected as the recipients of the 2017 National Catholic Educational Association’s Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision Award. Today, I am here as a representative of NCEA to present one of these ten medals to a student in your school.

Our winner James Bledsoe, has been praised by his peers as a “compassionate, socially active, and hardworking young man who is enthusiastic and always willing to help others.” He has grown immeasurably in the short time at Saint Joseph’s, exhibiting the highest degree of integrity, patience and leadership. James’ teacher has ranked him as one of the best students he has worked with in the last fifteen years, describing him as a true Christian Humanist, as he exhibits Catholic leadership skills effortlessly. 

James has been one of the schools strongest student role models and recently has developed quite a reputation for printing parts on the school’s 3-D printer including a prototype prosthetic hand to aid children in need. James has even contacted one of the children’s hospitals in hopes to provide his creation to help others. 

While James has a great interest is technology, that has not limited him. James has served with Campus Ministry during his time at Saint Joseph High School and has been an altar server for eight years as well as a participant in his parish’s youth group. James served as a Vacation Bible School Volunteer and a camp counselor at Camp Fatima. James has been the team manager for the Saint Joseph High School hockey team, played on the golf team, and has been in the school AV and Digital Media programs as well as its television and radio networks. He has spearheaded a charity bike drive for the last three years with the robotics team to help lower income families as well as a book drive for a program called “Success Won’t Wait.”

James Bledsoe is a well-rounded, hard-working individual that his family and school can be proud of."