The ideals of serving the poor and brotherhood are staples of the Lasallian tradition. CBA is part of a worldwide network of elementary, secondary and collegiate schools that are taught in this tradition, and two of these connected last week when CBA took its annual trip to the De La Salle Blackfeet School near Browning, Montana.
Browning is the capital of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, home to 12,000 Blackfeet. The current community contains chronic unemployment, welfare dependency, poor housing, domestic violence, and addiction. The parents of the Little Flower Parish on the reservation asked the Brothers of the Christian Schools to start a school, in hopes of developing their children’s talents while providing hope for the underprivileged community.
Led by faculty members Mr. Tim Sewnig and Mr. Michael Tomaino, nine Academy men traveled to Montana to spend a week at the fourth through eighth grade school, working with the students and reflecting on their lives back in Lincroft.
The CBA students were hands-on in the classroom with the children each day, being assigned to various grade levels to serve as mentors and tutors. The children at the school experience an extended school day from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., since their living conditions are often below average.
“The highlight of the trip for me was working with the students, going into the classroom each morning and seeing how excited the kids were for us to be there,” Ryan Mullins ’19 said. “That excitement allowed for the children to have enjoyable, but productive days with us. I believe that we served as good role models for them and they looked up to us.”
Outside of the school day, the CBA group was able to attend mass at Little Flower Parish, while also listening to respected members of the Blackfeet community on life in that area.
CBA students lodged in the bunkhouse of the local Holy Family Mission, where they were tasked with cooking for each other every morning and night.
The group was also able to take a hike through snowy Glacier National Park to reflect and refresh themselves before heading back to New Jersey.
“This trip was an opportunity for me to see what life outside of Monmouth and Ocean counties looks like,” Mullins continued. “We are lucky to live in an area that allows us to have nice homes, a great school and a social life. With the little opportunity we have to see how other individuals live, the Montana trip allowed for each of us to reflect on what we have and help those who are less fortunate.”
While the students at CBA are lucky to be surrounded with such a great sense of community, the administration, faculty and students know that it is important to be immersed in these less fortunate cultures. Campus Ministry is already planning additional trips to the De La Salle Blackfeet School in November and April.