On Thursday, October 6th, during the NJ Department of Education state-mandated WEEK OF RESPECT, Hudson Arts and Science Charter School held a dedication ceremony to name the gymnasium/auditorium in memory of charter school graduate and Jersey City Police Detective Melvin Vincent Santiago. Breakfast for the family and special guests was hosted by the iSupport Education Foundation prior to the ceremony.
Detective Santiago’s family, along with Jersey City Police Captain Michael Kelly, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie and members of the Jersey City and Kearny police departments, Senator Steve Oroho (R-24), Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos, and local officials, clergy, and community leaders gathered at the school to commemorate the life of this gifted charter school student and athlete who fulfilled his life dream of becoming a police officer and to serve in his community.
The ceremony began with the singing of the National Anthem by Maria Cunneely, Kean University student and alumna of Bergen Arts and Science Charter school; she was accompanied by the Kearny Police Department Honor Guard. Speeches in honor of Santiago were then given by Amanda Vega, Director of Communications for the New Jersey Charter School’s Association, and by Captain Michael Kelly, Commander of the JCPD West District. Students in the choir performed a tribute of Maria Carey’s “Hero”.
Santiago’s mother, Cathy McBride, addressed the students and guests and said, “My fear has always been that Melvin would be forgotten, not by his family, but by everyone else. Clearly that is not going to happen.”
A donation in the amount of $542 was raised by the students and school community and presented to the The Detective Melvin Vincent Santiago Memorial Law Enforcement Scholarship Fund, whose mission is to help provide economic assistance to a qualified graduating Jersey City high school senior student planning for a criminal justice degree who exemplifies academic excellence and community service, as Officer Santiago is remembered. The scholarship will be awarded for the first time to a student of the class of 2017.
School Director Marjorie Marenco read the official proclamation, followed by the ribbon cutting by Mrs. McBride. The ceremony concluded with the words of Nihat Guvercin, CEO of iLearn schools, who stated, “We are happy to have been welcomed into this community by all of you, and we have dedicated ourselves to being a positive, integral part of the greater community. We have but one goal: to help the children reach their fullest academic potential to ensure all students are ready for college, ready for careers, and ready to give back to their communities. And now, this room is a place of honor. It will forever be a place to remember Detective Santiago.”
The public is welcome to contribute to the scholarship fund by submitting donations to: The Detective Melvin Vincent Santiago Memorial Law Enforcement Scholarship Fund c/o iLearn Schools, Inc., 465 Boulevard, Elmwood Park, NJ 07407. For more information regarding the scholarship, please email Dawn Fantasia, Chief Communications Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.