We accept award on behalf of the Cornelia Connelly Center

Mercedes Sanchez accepted the 2006 Blackboard Award on behalf of the Cornelia Connelly Center Holy Child Middle School for "Outstanding Religious Middle School." Manhattan Media and The Blackboard Awards salute professionals, parents and graduates who provide moral and financial support to the schools honored each year. Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey and Gabriela Rowe of the Mandell School co-hosted the ceremony at the Claremont Preparatory School. Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also presented awards at the ceremony.

"When my former teacher, Ms. Connie Bush, asked me to accept this award on behalf of all the Holy Child students, I was deeply honored," said Sanchez. "I am a true product of the school, and if it weren't for Holy Child's financial assistance throughout high school and its graduate support program that provides SAT Prep courses, college visits and help throughout the college application process, I wouldn't be where I am today. Holy Child always told us 'to be all that God wants us to be,' and that's what I'm trying to do."

The Connelly Center received a new microscope from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences.

Born and raised on the Lower East Side, Sanchez graduated from Cornelia Connelly Center in 1996 and later attended St. Jean Baptiste High school on the Upper East Side followed by Le Moyne College.

The Blackboard Awards were created in 2002 by Manhattan Media, owners of Our Town, the West Side Spirit and AVENUE magazine. Their goal is to highlight notable achievements by schools across all of New York's educational systems. The Blackboard Awards program has met with an excellent response from schools, readers and the New York Press Association.

The Cornelia Connelly Center was founded in 1993 in response to the crisis in education facing girls from Manhattan's Lower East Side. Students get the same small class sizes and individual attention found only at a private school- for $55 a month. Named for a progressive 19th-century educator, the center enables girls to develop the aspirations, confidence, skills and values to fulfill their own potential and prepare for responsible roles in society. To learn more about the Cornelia Connelly Center, visit www.connellycenter.org.