STA Welcomes Newest Aquinas Star with “Spaghetti Your Way” Dinner
Posted on 10/09/2020
As one of the most beloved St. Thomas Aquinas High School traditions, the Aquinas Star program entered its 33rd year with the annual Spaghetti Dinner on Thursday, October 8. The program is a cornerstone of STA’s mission to serve others, in this case by adopting families of children with chronic or acute medical conditions. The Aquinas Star for the 2020-21 school year is three-year-old Rocco Dimaggio, who has been diagnosed with Advanced Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma. He lives in Staten Island, New York with his brother Carmine (10 months old) and his dad and mom, Rocco and Gabriella. Rocco is the cousin of alumna Amanda Montali-Nortesano ’98.

The Spaghetti Dinner is the kickoff event for a year of many spirited and heart-filled events. The dinner, in particular, is when the STA community gets to meet the Aquinas Stars for the first time and heap them with welcoming and love. This year, because of COVID-19, the Aquinas Star Spaghetti Dinner was a take-out only event. The “Spaghetti Your Way” event gave those who purchased tickets the option of take-home, take-out, or delivery.

The school parking lot filled with cars and volunteers erupted in applause as Rocco and his family arrived at STA. Observing social distancing and all of the Health Department requirements, a special “Rocco Strong” Tent was put up for Rocco and his family to enjoy eating their meal. Over the course of the evening, they were able to meet many students, faculty, parents, community members, and the Most Reverend Bishop James Checchio of the Diocese of Metuchen. Rocco was overjoyed with the many Spiderman-theme presents that he received.

“My family and I would like to thank you for the honor of having Rocco as this year’s Aquinas Star,” said Rocco’s mom Gabriella. “It was a beautiful event and Rocco will not stop talking about it. He loved the gifts but especially the spaghetti and meatballs. Your students are incredibly special, and we are blessed to be a part of such a wonderful family.”

As the biggest fundraiser of the year, it is also an occasion to provide financial support to the families. Over 600 dinners were served, raising over $12,000, all of which goes to the family. Aquinas Star organizer and Campus Minister Sr. Cynthia said of the event, “Aquinas/Ahr Star is an activity of the heart. I’m always humbled by those who are the Aquinas Ahr Stars and those who come to help. It’s a way for us to bring God’s face and heart to those who need him most.”

Helping Sr. Cynthia Babyak to make the Aquinas Star program into the overwhelming success that it is are Aquinas Star Co-Chairs Joseph Simmons ’21 and Ryan Salamante ’21 and a host of other students and Campus Ministry team members who dedicated their evening to greeting and ushering cars, serving food, and putting the dinner bags together. Additionally, the food, drinks, and paperware were all provided by generous student and community donations and the kitchen was crewed by the Woodbridge Knights of Columbus and parent volunteers.  Joseph commented: “I am overwhelmed with the success the dinner had, given the COVID world we live in. I am amazed by the same strong and passionate love that each and every individual brings to support the Aquinas Star program”. Ryan added, “We are so excited to spend the year with Rocco as well as his family and welcome them into the Aquinas family.”

Sr. Cynthia best summed up the events of the evening with her remarks during the dinner, “It is so important to care for others and to show our students how to care.” And so, the Aquinas Board, on behalf of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, would like to thank everyone who made this evening possible through their love, service, and support as it looks forward to another remarkable year.

Aquinas Star Spaghetti Dinner 2020