An Independent Episcopal Day School for Ages 3 Through 12th Grade in Burlington, New Jersey


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Sometimes siblings can fortify one another through tough times. Even when the world feels scary and unkind, a sister or brother can get you through.

That's the lesson Tania Bryant already has learned.

The junior at Doane Academy in Burlington City has known hard times, family problems and economic challenges.

But Tania and her younger brother — two of her family's 11 children — got a break, and found some solace when they moved in with their great-aunt and uncle in South Jersey.

Soon, they made a connection with the Cathedral Community Church and a church-connected couple and family. The couple became the godparents of Tania and her brother and made them feel welcome and important. All of that made a profound difference in the lives of these siblings.

But the marrow-deep bond was between brother and sister, and still is. "An unbreakable connection" is what Tania called it.

Recognizing Tania's inner strength is her Teen Excellence nominator, counselor Meghan Toomey, who admits awe at seeing the teen maneuver in the world.

"This is a girl who works after school at (a supermarket) until 10 p.m." to help her relatives with expenses.

When she isn't working, the Willingboro resident plays AAU basketball (she loves the game and dreams of playing overseas after college), all while taking Advanced Placement and honors classes at school, where she has a 3.3 GPA.

She also plays varsity soccer, is active in her school's Kindness Project, which provides community service, and volunteers at the Masonic Home in Burlington Township.

And that sibling bond? It is still unbreakable, and brings special meaning to the lives of brother and sister.

"My brother has been by my side through thick and thin. ... He has made a huge impact on me," Tania wrote.

Age: 17
Career goal: FBI agent

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