FAIRHAVEN, Mass. — Ireland Nordstrom, an eighth-grade student at St. Joseph School in Fairhaven, will receive the 2020 Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision Award from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) for selfless service, determination, innovation and ideals that are changing the world. “Catholic schools are harbingers of committed young people dedicated to service and committing their time and energy for the good of others,” said NCEA president/CEO Dr. Thomas Burnford. “These students are the faces of Catholic faith at work in their communities.”

Nordstrom was chosen from more than 1.8 million Catholic school students across the country. She will be presented with the prestigious NCEA Medal of Honor and Certificate at her school, during the week leading up to National Catholic Schools Week, January 26 through February 1.

“We are so proud of Ireland’s accomplishments, both in school and in our community,” indicated Faith Piazza, principal of St. Joseph School. “Ireland’s dedication to preserving the memories of those lost during the Holocaust is exceptional — and at such a young age!”

Steve Perla, diocesan Superintendent of Schools, added, “Ireland exemplifies what Catholic education is all about — faith and commitment to helping others. We congratulate Ireland on this incredible accomplishment and know that she will continue to be an inspiration to all.” 

Nordstrom spearheaded the immense task of helping provide 1.5 million buttons for the Bristol Community College Holocaust Center Button Project. These buttons will be used to create Memorial Murals honoring the 1.5 million children who died during the Holocaust. Affectionately known as the “button girl,” Nordstrom placed collection jars throughout local schools, churches, libraries, and nursing homes. As a result of her hard work and commitment to the project, she received more than 300,000 buttons. 

When asked about her feelings with winning this award, she said, “I certainly did not expect to receive an award — I merely wanted to do something to remember all who passed during the Holocaust. We cannot forget what has happened in our history and certainly not the 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust.”

The Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision Awards program is made possible, in part, through the generosity and support of Cross Catholic Outreach, a Catholic ministry whose mission is to mobilize the global Catholic Church to transform the poor and their communities materially and Spiritually for the glory of Jesus Christ. 

Cross Catholic offers dynamic programs and free resources to Catholic educators to engage students in faith-in-action service projects and works of mercy. 

For more information about Cross Catholic Outreach please go to www.crosscatholic.org/PSCD.