On January 22, 2001 students at New Eden Academy began a new semester with a special "New Start Day." In December all students participated in a ceremony of repentance in which they each burned their confessions during a prayer service on the beach of Long Island Sound. Over the winter break most of the students then participated in the Jan. 13th ceremony with their families. Upon their return, New Eden held a one day training program for a new start.
Rev. Young Taek Yang, regional director of the church in Connecticut, himself a second generation 72 couple who lives with his wife and 3 children on the NEA premises, opened the day with a speech about the value of purity in all things and the recent forgiveness and coronation ceremonies.
Mrs. Nora Spurgin, Director of Character Education and Dean of Students at New Eden reviewed with students a 21-point code of conduct and major school policies and their daily application.
At the conclusion of the program every student took a special oath by laying a hand on the Bible and Divine Principle, raising their right hand, and repeating the following pledge:
"I, ______________, will uphold the standards of New Eden Academy by striving daily to keep purity of heart, mind and body.
Centering first on God and True Parents, I will keep pure brother-sister relationships and avoid anything that would harm the body such as cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.
I will strive to achieve my highest potential as a student at NEA during the spring 2001 semester."
Mrs. Spurgin explained that she felt inspired to do this when she watched President Bush being sworn in by taking the oath of office and observed how moving this event was to those present. Student council president, Romin Johnson and underclassmen president, Theodore Kirkley, held the Divine Principle and the Bible while Romin led each team of 3 or 4 students in repeating the oath. Romin also gave a heartfelt speech about his own commitment and desire to keep NEA standards strong and pure. Another student, David Lee, expressed his wish that his fellow students would care enough to help each other maintain the standards.
"If you feel you canít take the oath, then you shouldnít be here. Taking an oath is a way to remind ourselves of the guidelines which have always existed and help us keep our commitments," Mrs. Spurgin advised.
NEA welcomed 3 new students; Jake and Jesse Richardson from Korea, and Bonn Phan from Taiwan.
Four seniors who have nearly completed their course work are spending a final semester working on internships for which they will receive credit. Internships incorporate volunteer programs or training-associated work projects. The four students will return for graduation services in June. Being a small school, NEA was able to set up this creative and productive arrangement. In public schools students often view their last semester as "party time" if they need only a few credits to graduate. The NEA seniors are continuing to take university courses toward a first year of college.
This semester, the Character Education class has begun a mentoring/community service program. Each student is required to perform 24 hours of community service in conjunction with individual or group mentors. Opportunities for creative service include helping a U.B. professor write and illustrate childrenís Bible Stories, preparing special music for Sunday Service, working as teacherís assistants at Bridgeport Hope Elementary School, working in offices, cooking with Mrs. Gertrude Yasutake, etc. NEA hopes to build up the program to include mentors not only in the local university and church community, but also in the greater Bridgeport areas.
Daniel Bessell and Jini Blanchard Bessell and their one-year-old baby, Sung Bok Sara have moved into the dorm and are helping as dorm parents. Everyone is happy to have this lovely 2nd generation family around. They monitor the recreation center (Marina Basement) every evening, where in addition to ping-pong, pool and board games, students and baby Sung Bok entertain each other!