UNION, NJ -- Several members of Union Catholic’s Student Advisory Club attended the fifth annual Union County Student Training Enrichment Program Summit on Friday at Kean University.

Sponsored by the Union County Freeholders, the day-long event invited high school sophomores and juniors from throughout Union County to participate in hands-on activities focused on leadership, personal growth and civic engagement.

The Union Catholic students who attended were Korantema Cofie, Calah McCombs, Jacob Jusma, Kai Chiang, Julie Emmons, Aiyanna Williams, and Annie Rosenzweig.

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The STEP attendees had the opportunity to participate in workshops such as “You Be the Judge,” which focuses on crafting effective elevator speeches, and “How to Be an Effective Leader,” which focuses on identifying the diversity, concerns and values of others. Students had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions focused on personal growth, leadership, and bullying while collaborating with others to work through the day’s activities.

The headline event of Union County STEP, the Civic Engagement Challenge, brings students together to brainstorm and create a county-wide community service campaign to be enacted through the Freeholder Board in connection with Union County students. The service initiative that receives the most votes at UC STEP and via the online poll will become a countywide project undertaken by participating Union County high schools. Judged based on involvement, enthusiasm, and creativity, the winning project will receive a $1,000 START NOW Grant from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

“Union Catholic has participated in this unique program since it inception five years ago,’’ said Mrs. Jennifer Dixon, the Director of School Counseling at UC and the moderator for UC’s Student Advisory Club. “The program enables students to develop their leadership skills while working cooperatively with other students to problem solving on a county-wide level. This program teaches students about servant leadership and the importance of working together toward a common goal.’’

Rosenzweig and Emmons said the STEP Summit was very informative and they were proud to represent Union Catholic.

“It was important to meet new people and discuss ideas on how to solve important issues like bullying,’’ said Rosenzweig, who lives in Millburn. “It was great to stand and be part of a community, and it felt really good to represent Union Catholic.’’

“I thought the program was great,’’ said Emmons, who lives in Scotch Plains. “To be put in leadership roles and collaborate on ideas on how to help people in our community that are going through the same things was very helpful.’’

Rosenzweig and Emmons had a very busy day on Friday. After attending the STEP Summit, they hustled over to the Short Hills Mall to deliver 1,050 Postcards to Santa to Macy’s on “Believe Day’. All the postcards were written by UC students. Macy’s made a donation to the Make A Wish Foundation for each postcard.

“Make A Wish has always been a big part of my life,’’ said Rosenzweig, a junior. “My good friend was part of that program, so I’ve always tried to raise money for it. Donating 1,050 cards really made me feel great. The community at UC is just so strong, which is a big reason why I came to Union Catholic. We go out of our way here to help people in need no matter how big or small the problem is.’’

“It was great that we all worked together for such a great cause,’’ said Emmons, a junior. “And by donating the cards on National Believe Day, the donations were doubled. It made our school really standout.’’

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