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Plenty to celebrate at BLOCS gala

Teacher of the Year Shane Taylor and Ryan freshman Kyla Carberry
Penn senior Amelia Hemphill (center), a St. Hubert graduate. Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Phil Martelli and Archbishop Nelson Perez with BLOCS scholars Abby Gannon, Juan Perez-Caicedo, Mia Clark, Matteo Cancelliere and Daviel Calderon. Photo courtesy BLOCS
Musicians from St. Hubert and Archbishop Ryan performed during the cocktail reception.
Lighting Up The Future backdrop hand painted by students from Little Flower, St. Joseph’s Prep and St. Laurentius.
From left: Little Flower juniors and choir members Yasmia Lewis, Brynn Maguire, Bridget Comas and Vandalyn Marrow.

Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools last week held a gala at the Crystal Tea Room, and Northeast schools were well represented.

Archbishop Ryan math teacher Shane Taylor was named Teacher of the Year and received a standing ovation. He was nominated by freshman Kyla Carberry, who described him as kind, patient and supportive. Specifically, he supported Kyla, who is visually impaired, with auditioning for, participating in and winning the school talent show. She played the piano as part of her winning performance.

The Little Flower choir performed during the gala, and music students from St. Hubert and Archbishop Ryan entertained during the cocktail reception.

BLOCS “alum” Amelia Hemphill, a Mayfair native and oldest of six sisters, shared her story of success as a St. Hubert graduate and senior at the University of Pennsylvania. She and her sisters were raised by their mom after their dad died. She will soon begin work as a paralegal in New York and might eventually enroll in law school.

The BLOCS Scholar Spotlight recognized five students, including Father Judge’s Matteo Cancelliere and Little Flower’s Mia Clark.

The gala theme was Lighting Up the Future.

The emcee was former St. Joseph’s University men’s basketball coach Phil Martelli, who taught at St. Martin of Tours from 1976-78, making $4,999 a year.

“I was geographically challenged,” he joked of driving to Oxford Circle from his home in Clifton Heights and then heading to coach basketball at Cardinal O’Hara and Widener at the end of the school day.

Martelli thanked the “underpaid but not underappreciated” Catholic school teachers and joked that attending the gala did not fulfill the crowd’s Ascension Thursday Mass obligation.

Archbishop Nelson Perez led the crowd in Grace before dinner and later recounted how St. John Neumann founded the Catholic school system in Philadelphia in the 1850s.

“We’re still here,” said Perez, adding that enrollment is up in elementary and high schools.

BLOCS, the largest scholarship organization in Pennsylvania, provides over 17,000 scholarships annually to students in the Philadelphia region who attend Catholic and private K-12 schools. BLOCS is 100% need-based for families who qualify for tuition support. BLOCS donors can redirect their state taxes to fund scholarships for families who qualify through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit.

Matt McFillin, BLOCS board chairman, said the organization raised $2 million a year a decade ago and now raises more than $100 million annually in private and corporate donations.

BLOCS is looking for a CEO, as Dave Rowan recently resigned. ••

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