Trenton Monitor Back to School 2018

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John Blaine photo





atholic schools throughout the Diocese of Trenton are joyfully opening wide their doors this September, welcoming back students to the rigors and rewards of a faith-based education and celebrating the new principals and presidents who are


taking on new roles. Tried-and-true methods of instruction share the stage with new, innovative use of technology and partnerships, uniting with one focus: the student. Evangelization is the mission, but no matter the medium, the message is clear: Catholic Schools Have it All!

 Messages from Bishop, diocesan schools officials outline commitments ... S2-4

 Social media and schools can work together ... S18

 Tuition assistance enables students to benefit from Catholic education ... S6

 High school Bible study melds sports, faith ... S20

 Back to school highlights describe what’s new and praiseworthy ... S16-17

 Local and diocesan PTAs are valuable partners ... S24

Joe Moore photo

Newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton



The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018



Catholic schools want our kids to have it all


ack to School!” You see the signs everywhere reminding us that it’s that time again. Although they may protest a bit, kids are usually eager to see their friends again after a few months’ absence and get back into their familiar routines. Parents are probably less inclined to “protest.” In so many ways, our society, including businesses, revolves around the notion of “the school year,” with September as the month for gearing up and moving forward. In the Diocese of Trenton, we distribute posters and ads with the mantra “Catholic Schools Have it All.” True enough. That’s what we believe. In addition to the “three Rs” of education everywhere, a Catholic education provides a deeper grounding in faith that builds on the foundation of faith set in the Catholic family home. Like anything worthwhile, the effort to create a faith environment in the Catholic school takes its cue from the way faith is lived and practiced at home. Practiced … that’s the key word. For our Catholic faith to take root, it needs fertile soil. The plants are there and ready – aka, our kids – but the ground must be ready to receive them, too, as their faith is nurtured by good catechesis in the sunlight of the Gospel! Catholic schools do a great job in educating the entire young person entrusted to their care. The studies and statistics clearly establish that as fact. The question I raise as

Ministrare Non Ministrari

EXCELLENT DAY • In this November 2016 photo, St. Peter School, Point Pleasant Beach, students look at the world through shades as the oldest parochial school in Ocean County celebrates its designation as a 2016 Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. In his Back to School column, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., reiterates all that a Catholic education can provide to a student. John Batkowski photo

Bishop, along with those who administer and teach in our Catholic schools is this: Why don’t more parents take advantage of the proven positive results of a Catholic education? At a time when education, in general, is promoted and prized throughout American society, our Catholic schools are steadily declining in enrollments – that’s a sad fact. As a lifelong Catholic educator who now, as Bishop, is responsible for our system of Catholic education throughout the Diocese of Trenton, I am deeply concerned about the future of Catholic schools here. People say they want Catholic schools, but the declining numbers in our schools just don’t support that. The issue is not one of quality. Our Catholic schools provide an excellent, well-rounded education as is evidenced by the number of “Blue Ribbon of Excellence Awards” our Catholic schools in the

Diocese regularly receive from the U.S. Department of Education. Quality is not the problem. The problem is one of quantity – numbers. With declining enrollments each year come declining revenues. There’s no other way to say it. Catholic education is wonderful but it’s not free. With fewer kids “in the seats” and the annually escalating costs involved in educating them always before us, the challenge becomes one of sustainability. Many of our Catholic schools just can’t pay their bills and their continued operations are at risk. Despite the good they do, they have become insurmountable financial burdens on parishes already “squeezing every nickel” to meet their other needs and responsibilities. The Diocese has made valiant efforts to help out – most often without any fanfare or notice or acknowledgment– but it does not have infinite, unlimited resources. It, too, has other needs and responsibilities to fulfill in the Church.


For me and I am sure for many, when a decision is made to close any Catholic school, it is agonizing. Unfortunately, some few such decisions are on the horizon. But the news is not all bad. The Catholic schools in the Diocese that are able to function effectively –even with some downturn in numbers – are doing an outstanding job for our kids and their parents. The task before us all – whether we have school age kids or not – is to support and promote our parish and diocesan Catholic schools, to “spread the good news” far and wide, to invite our relatives, neighbors and friends to consider Catholic schools for their children and to witness the real value of Catholic education from which so many of us have benefitted in our lives, our families and our careers. “Back to School” time has come again. And, even though they may be becoming fewer in number, remember “Catholic Schools Have It All” … still.


It always begins with a prayer


y best memory of a Catholic school experience, and my whole education was the Morning Prayer. It was then that the whole day was put into perspective and a peace came over me, a sense that no matter what would happen that day, it would all be just fine. Over the years I realized that the simplicity of Morning Prayer grew in me to be an understanding that all is grounded in one’s relationship with God; it is this grounding that helps one make sense of the world. Today, more than ever, our children need to find a way to be grounded, to make sense of the world. Sometimes it means that joy is discovered in the midst of difficulty and challenge, all because of this grounding.


kneel in prayer during the Catholic Schools Mass held last fall in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. Craig Pittelli photo

It may be that the unexpected and most perplexing of circumstances can be embraced and dealt with through patience and pur-

posefulness because of one’s grounding in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Cross can be carried and the joy of the Resurrection can be discovered. In a few days, all across the Diocese

of Trenton, elementary students and high school students within our Catholic schools will begin their day with a simple and heartfelt prayer. It will make all the difference in the world to them, and to we who are called Church. What these simple prayers will lead to is a mystery. I know that personally, within that simple prayer, I heard the first stirrings of my vocation and my commitment to Catholic education. I can only imagine with great joy what these prayers will lead to in the life of our students. What a remarkable gift Catholic education is and what a remarkable blessing to begin its day with prayer. Franciscan Father Gabriel J. Zeis is diocesan vicar for Catholic education.


AUGUST 23, 2018 •




Commitments abound for a new school year


eflecting on years gone by as an elementary teacher, I recall the enjoyment experienced in teaching Social Studies. Historic times and personalities came alive in an intriguing way. Beyond the textbook, additional resources brought life to the curriculum for students and teacher alike.

A common theme that surfaces throughout history is that each age, and indeed, each life, is filled with contrast – joys, sorrows, challenges, strife and at times, heart-wrenching circumstances that can only be adequately addressed with wisdom, courage, faith, and insight. Each era brings challenges that also provide the invitation for growth and change. Ordeals prompt analysis and reflection on choices and actions. We learn from history. We learn each day as we invite God into our lives. We are called to do good as we work with others for the higher good of all. It takes a village, it takes a community, and it takes the commitment and ideas of all to bring about positive change and to actualize possibilities. Indeed, the ideas of many guided the

development of the 2013 School Sustainability Study. This document provided the framework to guide Catholic elementary schools in terms of Catholic identity, governance, academics, finance, marketing and development. In 2018, a broad audience of talented individuals provided their expertise to update and expand upon previous recommendations resulting in the 2018 Commission Study. The guidance of the study takes form as a new school year unfolds. Administrators, teachers and staff recommit to providing faith-filled, wholesome school environments founded on the teachings of Jesus, in which students are enriched by the simplicity and directness of his teaching. Academically, students will be supported by their teachers and invited to learn as they go beyond their comfort level and

reach for continued growth and improvement. Resources and direction are provided for administrators, pastors and business managers for the incorporation of best financial practices. The input of pastors and principals will provide further consideration for implementation as the economic climate is addressed. Digital marketing continues to be underscored as marketing representatives assist administrators with school websites and an array of social media forums to tell the story of Catholic education. Columns in this issue of The Monitor, written by members of the Department of Catholic Schools, are included to expand on initiatives that strengthen school and instructional practices. Catholic schools exist to teach students about God and to integrate the faith in all areas of the curriculum. The faith-life of students will be supported as enhanced curriculum guidelines immerse the teachings of the Gospel into all subjects, providing resources for faculty implementation. Sensitive to providing current research-based material to guide instruction, a variety of curricular areas have been modified. Updates include the English Language Arts Curriculum, the Affective Early Childhood

Curriculum and the World Language Curriculum. Growth and new learning are considerations for teachers as well as students. Enhancing initiatives begun in 2017, the summer of 2018 was one of intensive teacher training to best prepare teachers to reach students with dyslexia. It is recognized that one in five, bright, intelligent individuals experience difficulty in learning to read and write. This summer, 37 teachers took part in a week of rigorous training. The learning continues throughout the school year. Twenty-five teachers will participate in the practicum leading to certification as dyslexia instructors. As lifelong learners, they perfect their craft and develop strategies to help all students achieve. Professional development for principals will likewise be organized around topics to enhance student learning. Principals will receive instruction on assessing gifted learners, digital leadership and building resiliency in students. As instructional leaders, principals guide teachers to become facilitators for learning. Teachers utilize differentiation in expanding the talents of gifted learners, and See Teachers • S22

Understanding diocesan curriculum process, focus


uriosity, creativity, interdependence, and technology – infused in a rigorous content and imbedded in the ideals and traditions of the Catholic faith – are the hallmarks of the diocesan curriculum. Curriculum at its simplest is understood to be a set of learning goals and content objectives articulated across grade levels. At its broadest, curriculum can be defined as the totality of a student’s experiences that impact learning. This includes directed learning, conversations, assessment, peer and teacher interactions and research, as well as cocurricular activities including the performing arts and athletics. It is this broader definition that guides the development of curriculum in the Diocese of Trenton. The National Standards Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools define an excellent Catholic school as one that has “a clearly articulated, rigorous curriculum aligned with relevant standards, 21st century skills, and Gospel values, implemented through effective instruction” (NSBECESS Domain 3, Standard 7, 2012). According to the NSBESCESS, the essential elements of “an academically rigorous and doctrinally sound program” mandate curricular experiences – including

A MESSAGE FROM co-curricular and extra-curricular activities – which are “rigorous, relevant, researchbased and infused with Catholic faith and traditions.” These essential elements provide a framework for curriculum development in the Diocese from pre-kindergarten through secondary school. During October, the Department of Catholic Schools and the diocesan curriculum committees will be presenting three newly revised curriculums: an Affective Early Childhood Curriculum (PreK-3), World Language (PreK-12) and English Language Arts (PreK-12). A revised Science Curriculum (PreK-12) based on the Next Generation Science Standards and a new curriculum for Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus are in progress and will be presented to administrators and teachers in spring 2019. With the start of the new school year, two new curriculum committees will be formed to revise the social studies and educational technology curriculums. These revisions will be based on the newly published National Social Studies Standards and the International Society for Technol-



“Curriculum can be defined as the totality of a student’s experiences that impact learning.” ogy In Education (ISTE) Standards for Students. All curriculum developed in the Diocese is based on national standards as well as current curricular research, aligns with the New Jersey Student Learning Outcomes and draws on the expertise of our teachers and administrators. The format of the curriculum guidelines varies according to the subject area. However, all guidelines incorporate specific essential elements including a vision and mission statement, learning outcomes and objectives, benchmarks, and suggested strategies for assessments and instruction. This structure provides guidance for teachers while encouraging them to implement their own assessment and instructional strategies. There are diocesan curriculum guide-



lines for religion, English language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, physical education, fine arts and library media development. For example, the vision of the newly revised English language arts curriculum is to prepare all students in all disciplines to become “lifelong learners, to read widely and deeply, to become culturally literate, to use written and verbal communication, to express opinions, to demonstrate critical analysis and to convey meaningful experiences while infusing the tenants of the Catholic faith” (ELA Curriculum, DOT 2018). The document goes on to present benchmarks, examples of formative and summative assessment and instructional strategies. This document is a skills-based curriculum that defines grade-level benchmarks in reading (literature and informational texts/nonfiction), writing, speaking and listening, integrating the Gospel values of the Catholic Church. The data collected from the IOWA Assessment scores is reviewed to ensure that any concept that needs to be strengthened is See Updated • S22





The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

Efforts in full swing to help students with dyslexia


here have been many studies in recent years on brain development. Much has been written about cognition and meta-cognition and many scholars and researchers have shared their own “thoughts about thinking.” One thing is certain: Each of us is a unique child of God, and each of our brains has developed differently – at varying rates and with distinct abilities. In 2015, a generous donor reached out to the Department of Catholic Schools with an offer for dyslexia education. He contacted JoAnn Tier, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, and visited the Chancery to speak with the department about the growing need for dyslexia education. He and his wife generously offered to provide a grant for teachers to receive education in this matter. Certainly, dyslexia is not a case of a lower intelligence level or a lack of an ability to learn. The simple fact of this complex matter is that those with dyslexia have brains that function in a different way. Teachers must be provided with the tools needed to tap into that “different way” of thinking help students with these challenges. Activities such as reading and mathematics can often be a very frustrating challenge for children in school, which this donor had seen firsthand. He and his wife wanted to send their children to Catholic

“Dyslexia is not a case of a lower intelligence level or a lack of an ability to learn.” school because they believe in what it has to offer. Unfortunately, they could not find a school staffed with teachers equipped with the skills necessary to help children with dyslexia. The Society for Neuroscience tells us that “in a world where reading and writing skills are in increasing demand, the impact of dyslexia on individuals – and on U.S. society – can be devastating. About 80 percent of learning disabled children eligible for special education services has significant reading difficulties, including dyslexia. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the high school dropout rate for students with learning disabilities is more than twice what it is for other students (36 percent compared with 14 percent). One study is currently tracing individuals from age 5 to their late 20s and will look at the costs of dyslexia to society as a whole,

especially in terms of intervention costs and employment opportunities.” In summer 2017, nine teachers from six schools of the Diocese attended a weeklong workshop at the Cooper Health System in the Orton-Gillingham Program in Voorhees to assist students with dyslexia and other reading challenges. The cost for this seminar was covered by funding provided to the Department of Catholic Schools. This program was expanded in summer 2018. Kathryn Besheer, principal of Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly, who attended the seminar in 2017, decided to offer this workshop to members of her faculty and kindly opened this opportunity to all teachers in the Diocese. During the week of June 18, 37 teachers from 15 schools attended this workshop in Mount Holly led by David Katz, a fellow of the Academy of OrtonGillingham Educators and Practitioners. Besheer used Title II funds, provided by the state, to fund most of the $5,000 needed. The Department of Catholic Schools provided financing to pay nearly $4,000 for the materials used in the course. One of the participants, Jennifer Graja from St. Paul School, Princeton, shared, “The training that we received with David Katz was perhaps the best that I have ever taken part in. He was exceptional and provided all of the teachers with so many practical and targeted ways to improve language arts instruction at multiple levels.


Daniel O’Connell, Associate Director of Curriculum

The time invested was so incredibly worth it. Our students will benefit greatly.” Because the response to these workshops has been so positive, the Department of Catholic Schools has organized a program through which the teachers who attended these seminars can continue their studies to attain classroom teacher certification in the Orton-Gillingham Program. Twenty-five teachers have committed to participate in the practicum that will provide this certification. This practicum brings with it a hefty price tag of more than $16,000; funding provided by the Department of Catholic Schools, the Foundation for Student Achievement and the Diocesan PTA will cover most of the cost. Each school participating school will be asked to submit a minimal amount to assist in making up the difference. The Department of Catholic Schools currently plans on offering this program again next summer. While financially the cost may be high, this is most certainly a worthwhile cause that will make a true difference in the lives of many of our students for years to come.

After great success, Hearts 2 Hospitals to return in new school year


lementary schools in the Diocese of Trenton are certainly no strangers to works of service, but during the 2017-18 school year, the bounds of that service reached a whole new level. For a number of years, elementary schools in the Diocese have been participating in a diocesan Day of Service, designed to reflect on God’s call to help others. In the past, each school identified, planned and executed a unique project. These individual projects were then broadcast on school social media sites and webpages, and press releases were sent to local media outlets. Although the Day of Service has always been successful, due to the model of each school working on a unique project, its reach and impact were limited. All that changed last year, when the decision was made to bring elementary schools together to focus on a single project. As a result of that collaboration, Hearts 2 Hospitals was conceived. The goal of this effort was to concentrate the resources of all our elementary schools for a common good, and in doing so, both maximize impact on the intended beneficiaries and highlight the contributions of our Catholic school communities. Along with the inherent practice of service, a focus of this new direction included service learning, with students


Judy Nicastro, Diocesan Associate Director of School Services

Dozens of Catholic school students, hospital representatives and Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., listen as Judy Nicastro, diocesan associate director of school services, speaks about the Hearts to Hospitals campaign during an April news conference. Craig Pittelli photo

“Each of the hospitals was impressed ...”

gaining a better understanding of the topic and/or people they were serving. Hearts 2 Hospitals is a project that involved elementary schools in the Diocese of Trenton joining forces to help sick children and their families in hospitals in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Eleven hospitals participated and were the recipients of over 10,000 toys and more than $13,000 in gift cards collected by students in the Diocese. Each school approached the project in their own way,

and as a result, students around the Diocese participated in educational, creative and spiritual activities designed to focus on helping hospitalized kids. Along with collecting donations, schools regularly prayed for sick children and families, encouraged contributions from co-sponsoring parishes, ran contests, created songs, listened to guest speakers in the medical field talk about childhood illness, read books and researched disease – all at age-appropriate levels.

The event culminated with a news conference held at the diocesan Chancery. During the news conference, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., spoke about the value of service and praised the students for their efforts. Additionally, representatives from all hospitals were present, and each spoke eloquently – yet at a level the students could understand – about the importance of this project and, more importantly, its See Hearts 2 Hospitals • S26


AUGUST 23, 2018 •

Holy Cross School Providing students a foundation of faith, a thirst for knowledge, and strength of character since 1941.

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(609)267-1728 250 High St. Mt. Holly, NJ 08060 SACRED-HEART-SCHOOL.ORG



The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

Tuition assistance, donors help Catholic schools and their families Story by Mary Morrell, Correspondent


atholic schools transform lives,” Bishop George V. Murry, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education, said during a January meeting in Washington with Catholic school educators to ensure the viability of vibrant Catholic schools. One of the underlying concerns discussed at the meeting was rising tuition costs, which among other approaches, requires school leaders and clergy “to be courageous and undaunted in going to donors, people whose lives have been positively affected by Catholic schools and have been blessed with economic security ... and ask them to give back to Catholic schools,” Bishop Murry said. In the Diocese of Trenton, donors are recognized as providing the generous financial foundation for the Diocesan Tuition

“Each year, it becomes more and more difficult to raise funds as the need increases.” Assistance Program and the many school tuition assistance programs that are benefitting students, families and their Catholic schools. In St. Jerome School, West Long Branch, donors are the backbone of the very successful St. Jerome Tuition Assistance Fund, for which donations during the period of June 2017 to June 2018 surpassed $78,000, said Filippini Sister Angelina Pelliccia, principal. “Tuition assistance plays a very important role in our Catholic schools,” Sister

Angelina said. “It empowers families who never believed their children could obtain a quality Catholic education, and it benefits the school by increasing enrollment and bringing families to the school who are deeply rooted in our Catholic faith.” The first step in the assistance process, noted Sister Angelina, is the family’s application through the FACTS Grant and Aid Assessment, the third-party provider for the diocesan tuition assistance program. “FACTS assesses the family need and then provides us with a report. Then we meet with the parent to tell them how much money the St. Jerome Tuition Assistance Fund can provide. The parent must agree to pay the balance,” she said. “We believe our model works well as it is built on the premise of pairing donors and specific children. We believe the donor then has a more vested interest. The response has been wonderful, but of course, each year, it becomes more and more difficult to raise funds as the need increases,” Sister Angelina stressed.

Importance of Donors For Sister Jude Boyce, who has spent 35 years as a principal, 14 of them in Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Asbury Park, tuition assistance has proven valuable not only as financial relief for families, but for the viability of the schools, as well. “I have been principal of four schools, three of which needed to increase enrollment,” said Sister Jude. A tuition assistance program at each school was responsible for the increase in enrollment, including in Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, where enrollment increased from 124 students in September 2004 to 196 students in June 2018. Sister Jude, who left as principal to take

Eighth-graders become teachers for a day, helping kindergartners with technology during a Teacher Appreciation Day event in February in St. Dominic School, Brick. John Blaine photo

on the role of director of development for the new school year, explained the process at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, noting, “If people don’t understand that this process works, they might be reluctant to try.” Every family requesting help with tuition must apply for diocesan assistance through the FACTS program, said Sister Jude, explaining that once the assessment report is in from FACTS, the tuition is set according to the school’s policy and based on the family’s income. In addition, said Sister Jude, “Our tuition is a family tuition, which means whether the family has one child or more, they pay the same tuition.” This kind of assistance benefits the school on several levels, she said. “Once a school has accepted all the students who are able to pay full tuition and the school still has 25 empty desks [or more] spread over the school, then accepting students at a lower rate is only a win-win situation. This results in more students benefitting from Catholic education, more money in the school accounts, and enrollment increases,” she explained. Our Lady of Mount Carmel also has an Adopt-a-Student program made possible by benefactors. Recipients of Adopt-A-Student scholarships have significant financial need. Often, these are hardworking single-parent families and grandparents who are legal guardians, trying to provide an education in the tradition and environment of Catholic schools. Benefactors receive letters, cards and progress notes from their adopted student, and events are held in Our Lady Mount Carmel for benefactors to meet their student.

Options for Families Students work on a project on the first day of school last year in Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly. Craig Pittelli photo

St. Mary of the Lakes School, Medford, has a number of tuition assistance options available to families in addition to the aid

available from the Diocese, said Cathy Bjorklund, director of admissions and advancement, who explained the options. In an effort to promote Catholic education and maintain healthy enrollment, the school offers a transfer grant to new families. The grant is available to students in grades one to seven who transfer to the school (excluding transfers from other local Catholic schools) in the amount of $1,500 per student toward their tuition for year one and $1,000 toward their tuition for year two. The Medford school also offers a military grant, funded by a private donor and available to students who have one or more active military parents. These grants are $1,000 per year per student in Pre-K to eighth grade based on full-time enrollment. Prorated grants are also available for parttime Pre-K students. “The Tuition Transfer Grant has been very well-received and has also caused some families to consider multiple students when they may have originally only thought of enrolling one child,” Bjorklund said. “The Tuition Assistance Fund has helped families who may not qualify for standard financial aid based on IRS figures, but have come upon difficult times such as an illness, job loss, etc. The Military Grant has been very successful in attracting military families who, while they may be transient, appreciate the consistency of Catholic education wherever they may be located.” Those families who have questions about the availability of tuition assistance at their school are encouraged to inquire in their school office. For more information on the Diocesan Tuition Assistance Program and FACTS Grant and Aid Assessment go to or call Kathleen Golazeski, diocesan coordinator of finances, 609-403-7168.


AUGUST 23, 2018 •



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The Monitor’s coverage of the Class of THE 2018 includes: • Messages from Bishop David M. Newspaper of the Diocese of O’Connell, C.M.; Trenton Franciscan Father Gabriel Zeis, diocesan education, and JoAnn Tier, diocesan vicar of Catholic … pages G2, superintendent 3 of Catholic schools THE • Overview of the Class of 2018 … pages G4, 5 • Reporting and Newspaper of the Roman Catholic photos from each Diocese of Trenton, of the high schools N.J. • Catholic elementary … begins on page G7 school graduates … page G33

June 2018

of St. Mary of the the darkened interior begin the opening moves through and liturgical ministers moke from incense fire blessed just Trenton, as clergy 31. The new Easter Assumption Cathedral, of Easter, March to light the the Great Vigil C.M., was used procession for David M. O’Connell, from darkness doors by Bishop This movement outside the Cathedral the gathering space. the world, as the the faithful throughout Diocese and across candles held by parishes of the n of Jesus Christ. throughout the to light was seen Death and Resurrectio of Trenton, rated the Passion, in the Diocese Easter and Church commemo Week coverage of Holy page 17. For expanded beginning on e center section, … P9 GCU see the eight-pag VISITS RIGHTS ACTIVIST ANS … P4 • CIVIL • MAKING HISTORY DIOCESE’S SEMINARI on Catholic SUPPORTER OF


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opes, expectations and achievement s culminated in Baccalaureate Masses and commencem ent ceremonies throughout May and June in Catholic high schools across the Diocese of Trenton, as the Class of 2018 successfully their secondary completed education to embark on new journeys year that saw both of faith. In a triumph and adversity, more than 1,500 from 11 high schools graduates stepped forward to receive their celebrated by diplomas and their proud loved be ones and wider school communities .

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Chrism Mass brings diocesan family of priests, laity together • Page 3


• APRIL 5, 2018

From Darknesst to Ligh

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The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

ND principal to honor tradition, embrace future Story by Lois Rogers Correspondent


s she begins her tenure as principal of Lawrenceville’s Notre Dame High School, Joanna Barlow is standing on familiar ground. Not only has she served as assistant principal for curriculum and instruction there for seven years, but she brings with her an affinity for Catholic education that, as she put it, “runs deep.” Growing up in Manasquan with two brothers and sister, Barlow said her own experience in St. Rose High School was a key factor in “helping me to find my passion and led to my vocation of serving in Catholic education.” Indeed, she credits her senior English teacher for her turn toward education. “I became an educator in large part due to Sister of St. Joseph Anna Marie Mack,” she said. “Sister believed in me, encouraged me, and made me feel like the smartest student in the room.” The ultimate result she said, is that she grew to “love learning from and working with teenagers and ... I want to make a difference in teenagers’ lives.” Barlow, who has been married for 21 years to husband, Eric, is the mother of

two teens: Claire, 18, a recent Notre Dame graduate just beginning her freshman year in the University of Maryland, and Owen, 14, an incoming freshman at Notre Dame. As an educator and parent, she believes that can best be accomplished in a Catholic school. “We educate the mind, body and spirit of our students,” she said. “The

“I’ve been very lucky to have been mentored by some exremely talented Catholic educators.”

academic rigor, opportunity for Christian service and co-curricular activities are top notch. Receiving a Catholic education gives the student the whole package.” Helping young people make the most of that package is her main goal as principal. “Notre Dame just celebrated its 60th anniversary,” she said. “It’s a school steeped in tradition and its reputation is second to none. My approach, as I enter my first year as principal, will be to honor tradition while at the same time, embracing the future.”

Barlow, who earned a master’s degree in education in administration and supervision in 2004 from Seton Hall University, South Orange, and a bachelor’s degree in literature from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, has a wide range of experience in her field that will lend itself to those goals. Her prior experience includes nine years as an English teacher for the Freehold Township Regional School System, several years as chair of the English Department in Piscataway High School, and three years as a supervisor and observer of student teachers of all grade levels in Georgian Court University, Lakewood. During her varied career, she found that shared decision making, good communication, goal setting and reflection are all qualities that work into the long range plans, she said. “In my welcome back letter to faculty, I wrote about how change is sometimes unnerving. I promised the faculty that ‘I would listen and together through communication,” the community will see “change as hope, opportunity and growth.” Her own Notre Dame experience has been invaluable, she said, in helping her gain the necessary experience to make the shift to principal. “Throughout my career, I’ve been very lucky to have been mentored by some extremely talented Catholic educators,” she said. “They encouraged me to step up to the challenge of principal. Notre Dame has become my family, and I am truly blessed to

Joanna Barlow, principal of Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville

be their principal.” A member of the newly merged Parish of St. Isidore the Farmer, Barlow and her family attend the Church of the Assumption in Wrightstown, one of two worship sites, the other being the Church of St. Andrew in New Egypt. “When our children were younger, I served as a summer religious education teacher,” she said. She sees the gift of faith and the “ability to bring God and spirituality into the classroom” as the key component to Catholic education. It allows, she said, “for a deeper understanding of the world and produces talented, intelligent and compassionate adults.”

Sister Mary Helen Beirne aims to build on Freehold school’s legacy Story by Lois Rogers Correspondent

“In all my education, I experienced persons of faith and prayer who were very fine educators and very wonderful role models for me.”


ister of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill Mary Helen Beirne is looking forward to adding to the legacy of the venerable, 143-year-old St. Rose of Lima School, Freehold.

Over the decades, that legacy has kept pace with the times, offering a child-centered learning environment that nurtures the spiritual, physical, emotional and academic growth of each child in a supportive atmosphere, Sister Mary Helen said. One of seven children growing up in Ocean City, her devotion to Catholic education stems from her own experience. She attended Catholic grade school and high school and went on to Catholic institutions of higher learning. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in European history from Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia; completed a mas-

Sister of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill Mary Helen Beirne, principal of St. Rose of Lima School, Freehold

ter’s degree in modern European history from The Catholic University of America, Washington, and a doctorate in educational administration from Temple University, Philadelphia. “In all my education, I experienced persons of faith and prayer who were very fine educators and very wonderful role models for me,” said Sister Mary Helen, who served

as principal of Star of the Sea School, Cape May, earlier in her ministry. Sister Mary has held varied and demanding positions, including serving from 1981 to 1989 as supervisor/personnel for elementary education for the Sisters of St. Joseph as well as teaching. She also served as assistant superintendent of schools for the Baltimore

Archdiocese from 1998 to 2002 and was the associate superintendent of schools for the Trenton Diocese during the same time frame. Under her watch, financial accountability was a primary focus as was expanding staff development. Most recently, she was head of school and an architect of change at NorwoodFontbonne Academy, the enduring Chestnut Hill institution that will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019. Under her expertise, the school achieved National Blue Ribbon of Excellence status and achieved its fourth Middle States Association of colleges and schools accreditation. In both diocesan settings, she strove to foster state of the art curriculum development and training of parish leadership. In her rare down time, Sister Mary Helen, a trained historian, also was the primary author and general researcher for a recent history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia titled, “Ready for Any Good Work.” Putting her organizational skills to work, she guided the project with extensive use of congregational documents, artifacts and input of the sisters through interviews and focus groups.


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The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

Chiaravalloti envisions active leadership in new role Story by EmmaLee Italia Correspondent


alavatore Chiaravalloti calls his appointment as principal of St. Ann School, Lawrenceville, a great honor.

“I am privileged to be able to lead St. Ann School and continue to guide its growth,” he said. With a background in teaching, technology and administration, the skills and experience Chiaravalloti will bring to the job would be attractive to any school. But the aspect of faith in the classroom is another key component he will support with his leadership. “I was educated in Catholic school,” he said. “My mom was a public school teacher and administrator who always emphasized the importance of our faith. Being able to lead not just a Catholic school but St. Ann School is a blessing. I am excited for the work that lies ahead.” Employed since 2013 as vice principal of St. Paul School, Princeton – where he was affectionately known as “Mr. C” by students and staff – Chiaravalloti wore various hats. As head of technology, he helped develop

and maintain a user-friendly school website and establish the upper school 1:1 Surface program. He served as director of teaching and learning, mentoring and guiding teachers through the N.J. Provisional Teacher program; as accreditation and curriculum coordinator, as well as fulfilling general administrator responsibilities.

“Working with parents in strengthening their faith is another opportunity we have as Catholic educators.” Prior to St. Paul School, he served as chief innovation officer from 2012 to 2013 in Newton Street School, Newark – a position that provided visionary leadership and faculty and staff support, with additional administrative, curriculum and testing

coordinator responsibilities. From 2001 to 2012, he was a social studies teacher and lead science teacher in Wilson Avenue School, Newark. He holds N.J. principal certification, earned his master’s degree in educational administration from Kean University, Union, and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Rutgers University, Newark. Chiaravalloti, who belongs to Holy Trinity Parish, Morrisville, Pa., with his wife, Erin, and two children, was drawn to St. Ann School for several reasons, including its staff, parent community and students. Having attended multiple workshops hosted at the school, he was able to observe the student body in various capacities, and was always impressed. “The post of principal is the opportunity to come in and see things through a new perspective, provide insight, and continue to grow the wonderful programs offered at the school,” he reflected. “[It] provides the opportunity for daily interactions with staff, students and parents, while gaining feedback and being able to use that feedback and observations to guide change and growth.” Chiaravalloti envisions being an active leader in classrooms, on the playground, interacting with students, parents and teachers as often as possible. “I am the type of person who likes to make observations and take things in before making judgements or decisions,” he said,

Salavatore Chiaravalloti, principal of St. Ann School, Lawrenceville

“and feel that will be a guiding principle of my leadership.” Catholic education is important and distinct from public education, Chiaravalloti explained, because it allows educators to mold students’ faith and develop disciples to further spread the Christian message. “Working with parents in strengthening their faith is another opportunity we have as Catholic educators,” he pointed out. “[We have the] ability to share openly in our beliefs, and to also use the way of Christ as a guide. Academically we … are able to focus more on the whole child instead of standardized assessment.”

Burlington principal aims to be source of encouragement Story by Christina Leslie Correspondent


imberly Cioci, the new principal of St. Paul School, Burlington, is looking forward to the school year, blessed with a caring staff, five new teachers and a philosophy of education she labels as “freedom.”

The Philadelphia native earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Fla.; a bachelor of science in elementary education from the University of Phoenix, Phoenix, and a master’s degree in education with a preK-12th grade administrative certification from Cabrini College, Radnor, Pa. Cioci began her career in education in Florida schools. She served as a library teacher, kindergarten assistant, dance program director and director of admission and financial aid in a private school in Boca Raton, and as a science resource teacher in a

school in the state’s Port St. Lucie. In 2012, she returned to her Philadelphia roots and served in the Keystone State’s Archdiocesan Catholic schools. Cioci served as a technology resource teacher in DePaul Catholic School, Germantown; as a classroom teacher in Our Lady of Hope Regional School, and middle school religion and English language arts teacher in St. Barnabas Independent Mission School,

“If a person is educated, all dreams can be obtained.”

both in Philadelphia. She has earned kindergarten through 12th grade principal certification from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Cioci and her husband, Anthony, are

Kimberly Cioci, principal of St. Paul School, Burlington

parishioners in St. Charles Borromeo, Cinnaminson. Outlining her plans for the upcoming school year, Cioci explained her philosophy of education. “I believe that education equals freedom,” she stated. “If a person is educated, all dreams can be obtained. … As an educational leader, it is my responsibility to be a catalyst of change for teachers to be better than they are, and to be a source of inspira-

tion and encouragement.” Her goals include “becoming involved with PTA events and keeping the traditions alive while getting parents involved. Increasing enrollment is important, and I want to start a school play,” Cioci said. Cioci also looks to expound upon the current ATP (activities, tutorial period) program, wherein each Tuesday students can take extra classes for six-week periods or be tutored on their current curricula. She plans to teach the students her basic Italian language skills, while her husband, who owns a photography studio in northeast Philadelphia, will share his talents with budding shutterbugs. “It’s great to expose the children to new things and give them an exciting outlet,” Cioci said, but hastened to add her admiration of a quiet, reverent space in the Burlington school dedicated to worship: the school chapel, where each week a class attends Mass celebrated by clergy from the town’s St. Katharine Drexel Parish. It also allows students a more in-depth view of how a priest celebrates Mass and gives teachers a chance to answer questions about Mass if they arise. “It’s great to have a quiet, holy place to visit during a school day,” Cioci said, “for them, for me and the teachers to reflect.”

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The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

SPS welcomes former Rumson teacher to interim post Story by EmmaLee Italia, Correspondent


pon hearing of the opening for principal of St. Paul School, Princeton, Kim O. Clauss immediately visited the school’s website and viewed a lip sync video students participated in the previous year. “Watching the [school’s] lion mascot walk through the school while the children were dancing in the hallways to ‘I’m Walking on Sunshine’ told me that this is where I wanted to be,” she recalled. “Their positive attitude, honest goodness and spirit drew me in immediately.” A parishioner of Holy Cross Parish, Rumson, along with husband Paul, Clauss most recently was the technology coordinator and teacher of technology and life skills in Holy Cross School. She was also vice principal in Bishop Fenwick High School, Peabody, Mass., and held positions as physical education, health and math instructor, and physical education chair. Clauss has been hired on an interim basis, as her application was not through the formal process of the school and parish principal search committee; however, she is open to applying for the permanent position when the search committee reconvenes in the fall, to discuss the process of moving forward in accordance with diocesan policy.

“Kim was very impressive in her interview,” said Msgr. Joseph Rosie, St. Paul pastor. “I have full confidence in Kim and look forward to working with her. She has a

“This is where I wanted to be.” real love and passion for Catholic Schools.” “This appointment is a tremendous opportunity for me as a professional,” said Clauss. “I have worked for almost 25 years in Catholic education, and I am more than excited by the opportunity to continue St. Paul’s growth in an era when Catholic education is more important than ever.”

Clauss earned two master’s degrees from Georgian Court University, Lakewood, in administration and health. She also received her bachelor’s degree in physical education and health from Springfield College, holding certification in K-12 education in New Jersey as well as a New Jersey State Principal Certificate. Clauss also has served on various committees, including the Holy Cross Middle States Evaluation Committee, chair of the AdvancED Review, and created the first Holy Cross School Security plan, working closely with local law enforcement. She is an avid Boston sports fan, coached elementary soccer and basketball, and currently coaches elementary school track and officiates track at the high school level. With two children having graduated from Catholic elementary and Catholic high school, Clauss knows the value of faithbased education. “Students in a Catholic school have the rare opportunity to learn, observe and experience their faith in all aspects of their education with continual reinforcement and guidance from their teachers and parents,” Clauss reflected. “This makes us different from the public schools in that every day, in every subject – from religion to science to art – and on to their extracurricular activities, we are teaching the values and mores of the Lord and the Church.” Clauss credits the wider community of

Kim O. Clauss, interim principal of St. Paul School, Princeton

St. Paul School and Parish for its achievements, and expressed a desire to continue its trajectory. “The foundation of St. Paul’s, including the work of its current pastor, faculty, staff, and parents, as well as past members of the school, has built St. Paul’s School of Princeton into the tremendous school that it is today,” she said. “My sincere hope is that I can add to its success in even some small way to continue and build upon its history and strong foundation.”

Mount Carmel community top priority for new principal Story by Lois Rogers Correspondent


hen the doors open for the first day of classes this year, students in Asbury Park’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel School will be greeted by their new principal, Theresa E. Craig. She takes the helm from Sister of St. Joseph Jude Boyce, who served as principal for 14 years and begins the new year as the school’s director of development. Craig, who has a background in public and private education, has successfully served several school districts during her educational career while including an active volunteer ministry in her parish, Immaculate Conception, Annandale. She also began her Catholic school teaching career there in 2007. Craig said her primary goal for Our Lady of Mount Carmel is to maintain its long career in excellence in Catholic education while continuing to make Catholic school accessible to the multicultural com-

munity it has long served. “I have had the opportunity to work in several school districts and learn from some wonderful professional educators,” she said. “Staying on the cutting edge of the issues and trends in teaching and learning will help to guide my new school.”

“Staying on the cutting edge of the issues and trends…” “Through collaboration with the staff and the further implementation of programs such as STREAM and our innovative after-school program, it is my goal to continue the long tradition of excellence,” she said. Craig admits she was drawn to Mount Carmel during a search for a position as a school administrator. “There were several things that I had in mind, but first and foremost was that the school is the right fit” – that it shared her vision for education led the list of her requirements. That meant a lot to Craig, who grew up in South Florida in a traditional Catholic

family with her parents, a sister and four brothers. Craig and her husband of 28 years, Jeff, have three children. The older two are college students and the youngest will attend St. Joseph’s High School, Metuchen, in the fall. It is primarily through her children’s Catholic school attendance that she began to focus on Catholic education. “I did not attend Catholic schools as a learner until I was a graduate student,” said Craig, who earned a bachelor of science in elementary education and psychology and a master of arts in education from The College of New Jersey, Ewing. She began her public school career in a Trenton elementary school, then taught third-grade students for three years in Mountain Park Elementary School, Liburn, Ga., followed by seven years as a secondgrade teacher in Califon. “My first experience with Catholic school was when our children began attending our parish school, Immaculate Conception School, in 2005. It was through my involvement in that community that I developed a love for and deep commitment to Catholic education,” shared Craig. At Mount Carmel, she is looking to build strong bonds with the community. At her side in fundraising endeavors will be Sister Jude, who said that as she begins her

Theresa E. Craig, principal of Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Asbury Park

new ministry in development, she hopes to “continue building the relationships that have developed over the years that I’ve been here.” “Many wonderful folks – among which are alumni, parishioners, personal friends, parents of former students – have been supporting Mount Carmel during my 14 years as principal.” Sister Jude said she is looking forward to having the time to establish an alumni association, continue the “Adopt-a-Student Program” and “invite others to join in the mission of educating children at Mount Carmel School.”


AUGUST 23, 2018 •

CBA grad joins St. Benedict School Story by Christina Leslie, Correspondent


t was a matter of faith, morals and values. After a dozen years of teaching and counseling in area public high schools, Kevin Donahue has once again embraced the call to Catholic education to become the new principal of St. Benedict School, Holmdel.

Donahue earned a bachelor of arts degree in education and history from Rowan University, Glassboro, and a master of education degree in school counseling at the University of Maryland, College Park, Md. After serving as social studies teacher in Burlington City High School, he served as a school counselor and anti-bullying specialist in Lacey Township High School. Outside the classroom, Donahue also served terms as varsity and junior softball, baseball and volleyball coach at the two high schools In 2014, Donahue, a member of the Christian Brothers Academy Class of 1997, returned to the Lincroft school as its director of admissions. There, he juggled responsibilities such as recruiting, marketing, advertising and consulting with its president, principal and associate principals; served as the school’s teacher of

“As a Catholic school student myself … I will never forget how to be kind to others.” advanced placement and honors psychology and as freshman baseball head coach. But a change in direction toward grammar school leadership was on the horizon. “I was inspired to apply for the principal job for St. Benedict by Father Garry Koch,” Donahue said, noting he had known the pastor of the Holmdel parish from his days as a teacher at CBA. “I was

impressed with the students and the staff, and thought it was a great opportunity.” Donahue and his wife, Courtney, are members of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Haddon Heights, in the Diocese of Camden. They are parents to two young sons, the eldest of whom is entering kindergarten in Catholic school this year. His continuing love of sports leadership now manifests itself as tee-ball coach for his son’s team. For his inaugural year in St. Benedict School, Donahue plans to “continue to build upon the traditions of the school” and noted the advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) equipment used at the Holmdel school. “There is great technology already in place, like green screens and 3D printers,” he said. “There are some things perhaps the public doesn’t even know about,” such as a new science lab that holds robots, coding equipment and high-tech projectors. But it’s more than just the quality of education or the latest electronic advances that attracts Donahue. It’s the bedrock of faith he experienced as a Catholic school student that still permeates the faith-based educational system today. “It will continue to instill great character, morals and values, and enable [students] to become a valuable member

Kevin Donahue, principal of St. Benedict School, Holmdel

of society,” Donahue said. “St. Benedict Catholic school students have a safe environment and a nurturing, loving staff, which instills the values of the Bible and what Christ taught: character, accountability and respect for others.” “As a Catholic school student myself, I may forget how I learned to write in cursive in the fifth grade,” he said, “but I will never forget how to be kind to others.”

Notre Dame principal takes on interim president role Story by Lois Rogers Correspondent


hen it comes to plans, it doesn’t pay to second guess the Holy Spirit. Mary Liz Ivins – the new interim president of Lawrenceville’s Notre Dame High School – admits that her original life plan was to “become a guidance counselor, work somewhere, marry and have 12 children.” That vision evaporated shortly after she returned home from graduating in 1976 from St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, with a bachelor of science degree in psychology. Accepted to Rutgers University’s master’s program for counseling, she delayed attending for a year to raise money for tuition. “In the last week of August, a friend called and said that St. Anthony High School [now Trenton Catholic Academy] needed a religion teacher,” Ivins recalled. “I had never thought about teaching religion but went for the interview.” “I started teaching the next week, found such joy and never looked back. I moved ‘home’ to Notre Dame three years later, earned master’s degrees in Christian education and education administration

and let God lead the way.” In hindsight, it was a perfectly plausible path to follow considering her background. Coming from a traditional Catholic family, all of the siblings – five sisters and two brothers – began academic life at Incarnation School, Ewing, and went on to Notre Dame High School. “Learning and growing up in a Catholic educational community was important to my parents and became natural and nurturing for all of us,” she said.

“It felt like the right thing to do.” “Our faith grew through the small, daily references found in those schools to the God who loves us,” she continued. “We were surrounded by real life experiences of faith at home and at school,” said Ivins, who shared that throughout her school experience, she felt strengthened by the knowledge that “God will never leave you alone.” “It was not what they said that built our faith. It was how they lived each day with

us,” she said. After earning master’s degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Lawrenceville’s Rider University, she returned to Notre Dame as a religious studies teacher in 1979. She was named department chairperson of religious studies in 1982, a position she held until 1989, when she was tapped to serve as assistant principal for student life. In 2001, she became Notre Dame’s Principal, a post she has held for the past 17 years, ending when she accepted the role of interim president in July. Along with her service to Notre Dame, Ivins has served in a number of capacities including as a member of the St. Ann School advisory board in Lawrenceville and the St. Gregory the Great School, Hamilton Square, advisory board. On a diocesan level, she was a member of the educational advisory board from 2008 to 2011. Professionally, Ivins has been a member of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association since 2015, where she is currently first vice president. She was a member of the diocesan marriage commission from 2014 to 2015, and she is a member of the AdvancEd Visiting Accreditation Teams. Ivins said her plan had been to finish her career at Notre Dame as principal, but once more, the plan had to be changed. “Notre Dame needed an interim presi-

Mary Liz Ivins, interim president of Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville

dent, and it felt like the right thing to do,” she said. Currently, she’s setting her goals and moving forward. “One of my biggest goals for this year is to reconnect ND alumni to their alma mater. Notre Dame is an exceptionally vibrant and successful Catholic school community,” she said. “I will be reaching out to all who have grown in this wonderful place, asking them to join me in making sure ND continues to thrive for generations to come.”


The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

Mater Dei principal blends school, business acumen Story by Dorothy K. LaMantia Correspondent


ebra Serafin is looking forward to bringing her 40 years’ experience as a teacher and administrator to Mater Dei Preparatory Academy, Middletown.

The school’s new principal is a graduate of Rutgers University with a bachelor of science degree in K-12 education. She taught health and physical education and coached sports and gymnastics in the middle and secondary schools in Wayne, then in Howell High School. In 1998, her career took a turn into school administration, which led her to supervisory positions in various schools in Freehold and Colts Neck. In 2005, she became the assistant principal at North Brunswick High School, during which time she entered the doctorate program at Rowan University, Glassboro. While teaching, Serafin earned a master of business administration from Monmouth University, West Long Branch. That degree

allowed her entry into various positions in business and finance industries. After her retirement in 2012, she pooled her academic and business experiences to become a grant facilitator and educational trainer, conducting workshops for teachers on professional issues. Then in 2017, a two-month interim position as acting assistant principal reinvigorated her desire to be in education,

“We want to move it forward as an exceptional high school.” eventually leading her to Mater Dei’s search for a new principal. Upon learning that the school’s teams were the “Seraphs” – so like the name “Se-

rafin” – she thought, “How apropos! If it’s meant to be, I have found my calling.” Indeed, Serafin called her new position a good fit, explaining, “It is a small school with a personalized approach to learning and innovative to meet students’ needs. Mater Dei is differentiating itself. That’s what drew me here.” She said she is looking forward to this year’s inauguration of Mater Dei’s Academic Institutes program, in which students will explore career possibilities in global leadership, information technology, performing arts, and emergency medical services/ nursing, while developing skills they will need to excel in the workplace. “My vision for Mater Dei Prep is to try to fulfill the board’s vision when they instituted the school. We want to move it forward as an exceptional high school, meeting the needs of kids in changing times, while keeping it based on Catholic tradition,” she said. Serafin said she feels at home in her new mission because it is grounded in faith and action. “With my Catholic background, I’ve done volunteer work in various parishes to which I’ve belonged,” she said, noting that she and her husband, Ed, have two children and are active parishioners at St. Dominic Parish, Brick. Mater Dei, she said, has a 90-hour

Debra Serafin, principal of Mater Dei Preparatory Academy, Middletown

community service graduation requirement, an opportunity for students to respond to the Gospel through community service, to participate hands-on in food banks, nursing homes, soup kitchens.” Reflecting on the importance of Catholic education, Serafin said, “It helps mold our children in the ways of our faith and provides a model to live by. They learn the difference between right and wrong and gain empathy for other people.”

Veteran Catholic educator takes helm in Maple Shade Story by Lois Rogers Correspondent


or Cynthia Smith, the new principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Maple Shade, the first day of school will mark a new beginning and a homecoming at the same time. Smith, who began her career in education as a teacher in Cinnaminson’s St. Charles Borromeo School nearly 30 years ago, spent three decades as a public school teacher in Camden City. She always felt, however, that “someday I would find my way back to Catholic education.” She said she is looking forward to returning to Catholic education and partnering with parents in providing students with a “faith-based, rigorous and engaging learning experience.” That’s not to say that she was ever far away from the experience. Smith’s grown children began their sacramental and educational lives in St. John Parish, Collingwood, attending the parish school, now called

Good Shepherd School. Active in parish life throughout her career, she currently serves as an extraordinary minster of Holy Communion in St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, which serves the communities of Collingswood and Haddon Township. Her volunteer ministries have included serving as a catechist for Confirmation preparation and as one of the original facilitators for the parish Children’s Liturgy of the Word ministry. Having entered into her second marriage in her parish this past June, she shared her delight at the expansion of her family. “With the addition of my husband’s son, Zachary, and daughter, Amanda, we now have four grown children in our blended family. My son will marry his fiancée in December.” In a letter to OLPH parents, Smith expressed her understanding of the importance of a strong home and school connection. “Parents are every child’s first teacher,” she wrote. “I believe that by working together, we can make that your child’s spiritual, academic, emotional and social needs are met.” Smith’s academic background includes a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from the University of Delaware and a master of education in school leadership from Wilmington University, also Delaware.

Just prior to coming to OLPH, she was an educational consultant for the New Jersey Education Association, providing instructional support to teachers in schools identified as in need of improvement. She also created and presented development workshops and observed and evaluated teachers. Her goals for OLPH include continuing traditions. “Generations of families have attended our school and continue to call this parish their home,” she said. “My

Cynthia Smith, principal in Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Maple Shade

Before joining the school, she served in a variety of teaching and educational roles, including as an instructional coach, a math and technology leader, program supervisor, teacher-mentor and classroom teacher. As a teacher in the Camden City School district from 1988 to 2016, she had a wide range of experience ranging from Pre-K to eighth-grade math. She served as interim technology coordinator and math coach, integrating district initiatives across content areas following common core standards.

“Generations of families have attended our school.” experience working to develop the community school model in Camden and Trenton public schools has strengthened my ability to reach out to stakeholders and gain their support. I hope to make similar connections in Maple Shade and our neighboring towns.”


AUGUST 23, 2018 •

Holy Cross Prep opens as private school with new leader Story by Dorothy K. LaMantia Correspondent


hen Holy Cross Preparatory Academy, Delran, opens its doors as an independent Catholic high school, it will be in the hands of seasoned administrators, including its principal, William J. Stonis, a veteran of 38 years as a public school administrator. “We are looking forward to Sept. 4 and to a productive school year,” said Stonis, who graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in K-12 education in health and physical education and minor in mathematics from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). He earned a master of arts degree in education at Rowan University. “I have a lifetime in education, my life’s work,” he said. “The skills I’ve garnered at

“Having kids attend and graduate from Catholic schools is crucial to the community.” each milestone will help me as our school opens and moves forward. I am a forward thinker – always thinking about what we need and where we’re going.” Holy Cross Academy closed as a diocesan school in June, and as of July 1 converted into a private entity – Holy Cross Preparatory Academy – guided with the help of alumni. Stonis taught health and physical education then moved onto administration. He served as principal of Burlington Township High School and then as assistant superintendent for that district. He was named superintendent of the Cumberland Regional School District, Upper Deerfield Township, where he served until he retired in 2015. The retirement was short-lived. “I was too young to retire, so I contemplated going back to Catholic education,” he said. “I’ve been principal of St. Rose of Lima School, Haddon Heights, in Camden County for the last three years.” This new opportunity surfaced while he coached the baseball team at Burlington County College, where a team member, a

proud alumnus of Holy Cross, mentioned ogy, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) the school’s reorganization and search for a programs to keep pace with the world’s new principal. changing demands. In three to five years, “This new beginning is a tremendous we hope to include performing arts.” challenge, which we accept with open Stonis, who has been married to his Form 281 revised 06/2018 arms,” he said. wife, Cathy, for 40 years and has two sons, Currently, there are 265 students enis a member of Holy Spirit Parish, Mullica YECamden. AR 2019 rolled, with a staff of 25 (full and part-time), Hill, in theFISCAL Diocese of He called PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT plus adjuncts. “We have a great team,” StoCatholic education “the lifeline of our nis said. “Having administration and faculty faith.” working together is vital to the success of a “Having kids attend and graduate from PLEASE NOTE: This public announcement be used in its entirety since it meets all federal school.” Catholic schools ismust crucial to the commuregulations. Fill in all blanks with the appropriate information. Asked about his vision for Holy Cross nity,” he said. “We need to educate youth on Prep, he said, “We’re out to expand acatheir faith and incorporate its teachings into William J. Stonis, principal of Holy Cross Preparatory Academy, Delran demic programs and the science, technolall we do.” The Diocese of Trenton announced today that low cost, nutritious school meals and/or milk will be available to all children enrolled in the schools listed below. In addition, meals and/or milk will be provided free or at a greatly reduced price to children from households whose income is at orschool belowmeals the and/or amounts the household size enrolled and income The Diocese of Trenton announced todaygross that low cost, nutritious milklisted will beonavailable to all children in the schools listed scale which appears below. Applications for Free and Reduced Price School Meals will be sent to the below. In addition,households meals and/orofmilk will be provided free or at a greatly reduced price to children from households whose gross income is at or below all children enrolled in the schools listed.


the amounts listed on the household size and income scale which appears below. Applications for Free and Reduced Price School Meals will be sent to the households of all children enrolled in the schools listed. INCOME ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES INCOME ELIGIBILITYJuly GUIDELINES • JULY 1, 2018 – JUNE 30, 2019 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019 (Asannounced announced by of Agriculture.) (As by the the United UnitedStates StatesDepartment Department of Agriculture) FREE M EALS OR M ILK

HOUSEHOLD SIZE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Each Additional Household Member



Twice per Month

Every Two Weekly Weeks

15,782 21,398 27,014 32,630 38,246 43,862 49,478 55,094

1,316 1,784 2,252 2,720 3,188 3,656 4,124 4,592

658 892 1,126 1,360 1,594 1,828 2,062 2,296

607 823 1,039 1,255 1,471 1,687 1,903 2,119

304 412 520 628 736 844 952 1,060






HOUSEHOLD SIZE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Each Additional Household Member


Twice per Month

Every Two Weekly Weeks

22,459 30,451 38,443 46,435 54,427 62,419 70,411 78,403

1,872 2,538 3,204 3,870 4,536 5,202 5,868 6,534

936 1,269 1,602 1,935 2,268 2,601 2,934 3,267

864 1,172 1,479 1,786 2,094 2,401 2,709 3,016

432 586 740 893 1,047 1,201 1,355 1,508






Application forms are available at the school’s website and at your child’s for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. school. Application can be submitted at any time during the school year. If a housePersons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for Application forms are available at the school’s website and at your child’s school. Application can be hold member becomes unemployed, or the household size or income changes durprogram information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, submitted at any time during the school year. If a household member becomes unemployed, or the ing the school year, parents are encouraged to contact the school so that all children etc.), should contactare theencouraged Agency (State to or local) where applied for benefits. household size or income changes during the school year, parents contact thethey school receive the proper benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact so that all children receive the proper benefits. For the school officials to determine eligibility, the household must provide the USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program following information listed the application: of all household members; informationmust may beprovide made available in languages other than listed English. For theonschool officialsnames to determine eligibility, the household the following information on thebyapplication: names type of all household members;Tohousehold income received by each complete household household income received each household member; of income; frequency file a program complaint of discrimination, the USDA Program member; type of income; frequency ofand income as weekly, every Form, two weeks, month of income such as weekly, every two weeks, twice a month or monthly; the sig- such Discrimination Complaint (AD-3027)twice foundaonline at: or http://www.ascr. monthly; the signature and ofthe last household four digits of the social security number of adult household nature and the last four digits ofand the social security number an adult, andan at any USDA office, or write a letter admember certifying that the information provided is correct. member certifying that the information provided is correct. dressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the The informationThe provided by parents on the application will be kept confidenform.will To request a copy of the complaint form, (866)only 632-9992. information provided by parents on the application be kept confidential and will becall used for Submit your tial and will be usedthe onlypurpose for the purpose of determining eligibility. completed form or letter to USDA by mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of determining eligibility. The school will advise parents of their child’s eligibility within 10 working days of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washof receipt of the application. Any parent dissatisfied with the eligibility determina- ington, D.C. 20250-9410; fax: (202) 690-7442; or email: tion may contact the school to request an informal conference or may appeal the This institution is an equal opportunity provider. decision by requesting a formal hearing. Parents may call the school for further The following schools participate in one or more of the following School Nuinformation on the program. trition Programs: National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, After Once determinations are completed, school officials are required to verify three School Snack Program, Special Milk Program. percent of the approved free and reduced price applications on file. Name of School Town in Which School is Located Foster children are eligible for free meals or free milk. Households receiving assistance under NJ SNAP or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for Our Lady of Perpetual Help School Maple Shade their children will be notified of their eligibility for free benefits unless the houseTrenton Catholic Academy - Lower School Hamilton hold notifies the school that it chooses to decline benefits. Households receiving St. Mary of the Lakes School Medford assistance under NJ SNAP or TANF should only submit an application if they are not notified of their eligibility by a specified date determined by the school. St. Benedict School Holmdel In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) St. Rose of Lima School Freehold Borough civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School Asbury Park institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discrimTrenton Catholic Academy Upper School Hamilton inating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation


The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

Catholic School Highlights What’s new, praiseworthy in local schools

In an effort to highlight the best of what Catholic schools have to offer their students, schools of the Diocese submitted to The Monitor features they anticipate for the 2018-19 academic year, new and enriched programs or plans, advancements and faculty additions, and what the schools are most proud of. Here are their responses, condensed for space.

St. Peter School, Point Pleasant Beach • Will roll out its new robotics and coding program. All students will be able to participate in rich new learning experiences with Sphero Sprk+ robotic devices. • The 1:1 tablet program continues, with all students in grades K-5 using iPads, and all students in grades 6-8 using Microsoft Surface Pros. In addition, St. Peter’s will expand use of Google Classroom, a tool that enables students to have access to assignments at home and at school. • St. Peter’s new athletic director has been planning Saints’ Sports, offering many types of sports for PeeWee, junior varsity and varsity levels. • The lunch program, Green Apron Café, was a huge success last year, with children enjoying its delicious homemade food. The school kitchen now also boasts a brand new commercial oven and stove thanks to the help of the St. Peter’s Knights of Columbus council. • Will host a Welcome Ice Cream Social for all new and returning families Aug. 29.

Holy Cross School, Rumson • Has chosen “Inspiring Excellence” as its motto for the year. Dr. Mark DeMareo, principal, said that his focus is on “a clear sense of purpose – a school with a strong purpose nurtures that same quality in its

Students in Holy Cross School, Rumson, pose with some of their artwork during Catholic Schools Week Jan. 29. Holy Cross School Facebook photo

More Online Want to learn more about what diocesan Catholic schools have to offer this academic year? The schools’ full responses can be found at > Features > Back to School.

students. You find the children developing a clear sense of direction – and not just a determination to do well for themselves, but a wish to see their friends and peers do well, too.” • Welcomes Peter J. Lyden to the newly appointed position, director of development, to help provide and plan for financial sustainability that will allow employment of the best teachers, technology and equipment for students, both today and in the future. Lyden has an extensive career in public relations, marketing and communications. As president of the board of trustees of the Monmouth County Arts Council, he established a capital fund that is still growing. Lyden was educated in Catholic schools, has been a member of Holy Cross Parish for 17 years and is a catechist in the religious education program. “I think God expects us to see opportunities in our path,” Lyden said. “I wanted to work in a Catholic school, because… children… need a solid foundation of faith, values, morality and empathy early in life. Their faith can be a part of them, but someone has to put it there.”

St. Rose High School, Belmar, is planning a daily Convocation, new service opportunities and a surfing program. Courtesy photo

Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville • Will begin the academic year with new leadership, as Mary Liz Ivins, former Notre Dame principal for 17 years, will assume the role of school president. Meanwhile Joanna Barlow, former vice principal for curriculum and instruction, will take on the role of principal. • Lisa Lenihan will take on the post of assistant principal for curriculum and instruction. For the past year, Lisa served as Notre Dame’s English department chair. In addition to 18 years teaching, Lenihan worked as an adjunct professor at The College of New Jersey, Ewing. • The new Vice Principal for Student Life is Eleanor MacIsaac, who brings with her 17 years experience as assistant principal of St. Rose High School, Belmar. • Additional new faculty members include: Dr. Duane Hoch – biology, anatomy and physiology and chemistry; registered nurse Claudia Carle – anatomy and physiology and exercise physiology; Mary Komjathy, Algebra 1 and 2; Dr. Tenisha Howard – a social studies elective: Contemporary Issues in Minority America; Cynthia Sabogal – Spanish 1 and Honors Conversational Spanish; and Lisette Weiland – a new American Sign Language Course, and moderate the American Sign Language Club.

Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River Faculty members Mary Beth DeBlasio, Michael Santos, Mike Lacy and Kenneth Oliver represented Donovan Catholic at the weeklong Science and Religion Seminar in June, an initiative exploring the interface of science and religion at the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life, Ind. In addition to hearing from scholars in religion and the sciences, high school teachers from around the country gathered to design innovative lesson plans that will

help students see the interface between the two subjects. Unique among the seminar attendees, the Donovan Catholic team participated entirely online. They collaborated with other educators from 25 Catholic schools to create lesson plans for exploring the relationship between science and religion with their students. “When our high schools excel at exploring that interface, students take two giant steps forward,” said Jay Martin, codirector of the initiative, along with Patricia Bellm at the McGrath Institute. “The students gain theological insights grounded in reason, plus scientific knowledge that boosts them toward faith-filled lives, as well as tomorrow’s careers.”

St. Rose High School, Belmar • Has chosen the theme “St. Rose – Reflect, Renew, Rejoice” for the academic year. • Will begin four days a week with Convocation – students and staff will convene as a community for prayer, to share important information and celebrate student accomplishments. Wednesdays will begin in homeroom and include the televised St. Rose Live Weekly News Program. • Has planned new service opportunities, including visiting the elderly at Neptune Senior Center and a 2019 summer outreach mission, and student competition on the St. Rose Ethics Team. • A new academic schedule will allow students to take four additional classes during high school, including a new music program. • The athletic department will feature a surfing program at both varsity and club level, allowing surfers to practice and compete on one of the Spring Lake beaches. Live streaming of athletic events will also be provided through a partnership with New Jersey Advanced Media. • School building improvements include a new set of entrance steps to the red brick building, and the installation of a fire prevention sprinkling system on the first See Schools • S17


AUGUST 23, 2018 •

Schools shine spotlight on what’s new in 2018-19 Continued from • S16

floor of the main building. • New faculty members include MaryBeth Chambers, mathematics and head girls basketball coach; Dennis Carey, vice principal for student affairs, and Sister of St. Joseph Marie O’Hagan, religious studies. Newly ordained Father Chris Dayton, parochial vicar of St. Rose Parish, will serve as spiritual adviser.

2018 graduates of Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River, sport T-shirts emblazoned with the names of universities they will attend this fall. Donovan Catholic Facebook photo

Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly • Looks forward to welcoming its new students, creating new traditions and implementing exciting new initiatives. • Will launch Discovery Education, building upon its existing science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics (STREAM) program. With this curriculum, students will develop communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity by working on projects based on the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. • Has also created a “What I Need” (WIN) block. Two days a week, students will have skills based enrichment classes in math and language arts to enhance strengths and strengthen weaknesses. • Chose new uniform designs supplied by Tommy Hilfiger School Uniforms; full dress uniforms will be worn on days of special occasion.

St. Rose of Lima School, Freehold • Encourages student involvement in leadership roles, among them the student ambassadors, who give tours to prospective families, provide service during diocesan meetings and open houses; and student government, representing the school in the

broader community. • Community outreach includes partnering with Open Door, a local food bank, Holiday Express, and Christmas Giving Trees. Student leaders organize, implement, facilitate the projects, and put their faith into action. • Other leadership opportunities include safety patrol, preschool helpers, chorus president and vice president, Mass leaders (altar servers, cantors, readers and gift bearers), announcements and prayer leaders, and Boy Scout flag leaders. • Has been committed for 143 years to providing “an environment that is centered in Gospel values, strives for excellence in academics, and is conducive to the spiritual and physical growth of every child. Daily experiences in leadership development enable the students to become responsible and productive members of Church and society.”

Lead the Way STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum during the 2016-2017 school year, TCA has continued to add courses, with the Lower School now fully integrated for students in grades K-8. This year, another PLTW module, Advanced Computer Science, will be included in the Upper School curriculum. • Students will also be able to apply engineering principles when they assemble a greenhouse in the school courtyard. The greenhouse has been purchased, the foundation has been laid and is awaiting

students, who will take ownership of this project and construct the building along with their teachers. Students will have the opportunity to utilize the greenhouse in their classwork and extracurricular activities throughout the school year. • John Kocsis, Lower School technology instructor and FIRST Lego/Robotics and Coding Club moderator, is a nominee for the CAPE (Council for American Private Education) Teacher of the Year Award. The final step in the nominee process includes a formal interview in September.

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Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton • New components have been incorporated into in the school’s STREAM curriculum. With the implementation of Project

Pre-K through Grade 8

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The student council of St. Rose of Lima School, Freehold, hosted a 2017 fundraiser for Autism New Jersey, with wristband sales totalling more than $1,414 for the charity. St. Rose of Lima Facebook photo




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The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

Working together: Social media and schools Story by Mary Morrell Correspondent

Schools in Hamilton, Medford and Point Pleasant Beach are among those who use Facebook as a way to build community.


evin Callahan describes using social media this way: “It’s like Paul visiting Corinth, without strapping on the sandals.”

Callahan, minister of evangelization and marketing in St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, sees social media as a tool for communication, growth and community building, sharing the story of both parish and school and the Good News of the Gospel in the process. “Utilizing the different social media platforms allows us to reach people where they are,” said Rose O’Connor, director of marketing and campus minister in Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, as well as marketing chair for the diocesan PTA Board. For St. Peter School, Point Pleasant Beach, “social media has been an integral part of communicating with our family, friends and alumni,” said Lorraine Knepple, director of admissions and marketing, who explained that the Blue Ribbon school began with a simple Facebook page and branched out into multiple media outlets, including Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. “Parents often turn to social media

DID YOU KNOW? The Diocese has a Social Media Policy and Resource Guide to explain best practices, answer any questions and address concerns. View it at digital-and-social-media. for recommendations on schools for their children, and it’s important that our schools have a strong social media presence so they can see that our Catholic schools are an excellent choice,” O’Connor said. “It allows us to share our story and to share information with our current families, prospective families, alumni and donors,” she added.

BEST PRACTICES IN SOCIAL MEDIA Know Your Audience Each social media platform is designed for different uses and target audiences; know who you are marketing to and design a post for that audience. Using the data and insights provided by the platform allows you to see which post or ad was effective and which missed the mark. Create Engaging Posts Sometimes, the content to be posted isn’t always engaging, but it is important that posts highlight exactly the message you intend on presenting. Photos, or short and catchy videos, often grab the attention of the user who may scroll past posts that simply contain words. Plan and Prepare Schedule posts ahead of time when you can. Encourage the school community to get into the habit of taking pictures and sending them to the person in charge of posting. * Important note: Everyone should be aware of students who are not allowed to be photographed. Children’s safety is always the No. 1 priority. Spread the News Social media is the new “word of mouth” marketing that is helpful in spreading the good news about Catholic schools. Tag those businesses or companies that have donated their time, talent or treasure to your school. To

spread the news, “share,” “re-tweet,” “re-pin.” Be Educated The National Catholic Educational Association ( has free webinars on-demand that discuss social media do’s and don’ts and helpful suggestions for marketing Catholic schools. Be Aware As with the many positives of social media, there can also be negatives. It’s important to have someone who can monitor social media pages regularly. Problems and concerns need to be addressed immediately and appropriately. The Diocese has created a policy to assist those who work in marketing to address such issues. Start Small The first step is to decide on one platform and start following other schools. Check out what elementary schools and high schools are doing on social media to get some ideas. (Tip: visit for a list of all the schools in the Diocese. Once you visit the school’s website, you can see what platforms they are using and like/follow right from their page). Best Practices is a compilation drawn from the expertise of Rose O’Connor, Lorraine Kneppel and Kevin Callahan.

Social media is also a powerful evangelization tool, noted O’Connor, providing an opportunity to share how students and youth of the Church are putting their faith into action. ”Simple posts can include a link for additional information or can include an invitation to Mass,” she said. Callahan agrees. “Evangelization is our mission, and we can do it easily through social media,” he said, imagining what Sundays would look like if every student or parishioner “got one person to Mass through a social media invitation.”

Using the Platforms Among the most utilized platforms for schools are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, said O’Connor, noting that each platform serves a different use for a different target audience. Recently, Callahan used Facebook effectively to promote the parish carnival. “The carnival Facebook page was overwhelmingly successful, as was the carnival,” he said, explaining that the family event generated a lot of questions on Facebook to which he was able to respond quickly, providing information and building community. O’Connor explained that Facebook appeals for the most part to adults – families, parents, donors and alumni, while YouTube appeals to young people. “I post all our videos on YouTube,” she said, noting also that during the height of basketball season Twitter gains momentum. “A lot of the sports teams and coaches utilize Twitter, as do many of the clubs and after-school programs in the high schools,” she added. Pinterest, a social bookmarking site that serves as an online pin board, relies on visuals and often provides teachers with ideas for their classroom and for instruction. In addition, Pinterest can be used to showcase schools and the different innovative lessons and projects of teachers and students, O’Connor said.

“Evangelization is our mission, and we can do it easily through social media.”

Whether schools use some or all social media platforms, it is essential, said Knepple, that “all pages are monitored daily” and a response is given when people interact and ask questions.

Making a Difference With all of the platforms free to use, marketing and advertising on social media is budget friendly. “In the current age of digital ads,” Knepple said, “we also use social media as a main form of advertising. We use analytical tools to see how far the advertising reaches and what impact it has on our traffic.” “For a relatively small cost, schools can advertise directly to a targeted audience, making marketing efforts, often managed on a limited budget, extremely cost effective,” said O’Connor, adding, “All of these campaigns can be adjusted, and data is provided to show how many people have been reached by the advertising.” As a communication tool, social media “has also been extremely helpful to keep our school families informed about the legal and budget issues that affect our schools as well. Social media allows us to spread the word to our school families and supporters that important legislation needs their attention,” O’Connor said. The bottom line, offered Knepple, is “when used correctly, social media can be a very positive means of communicating and getting the word out about your programs and community events.”


AUGUST 23, 2018 •




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The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

Faith, football come together in high school Bible study By Rich Fisher Correspondent


he weight room at Notre Dame High School has taken on a whole new meaning for a group of Irish football players. “Coming to Notre Dame, I always thought of the weight room as some macho place you go down to and get huge, but it’s so much bigger than that,” senior quarterback Rob Buecker said. “It embodies so much more.”

“One of the main reasons I came to Notre Dame instead of my local high school was to come to know more about my faith.” The reason being, since last January, the Lawrenceville school’s strength and conditioning coach, John McKenna, along with

school chaplain Father Jason Parzynski, began a Bible study for the football program that has become increasingly popular with the players. What started with 18 people has expanded to more than 30 through the summer, as the group meets every other Friday in – where else? – the weight room. McKenna is not surprised at the turnout. “I really think kids are dying for stuff like this,” McKenna said. “They’re looking for some kind of way to believe in each other, they’re looking for that intangible to help each other as a team, and they’re also looking for things in normal life. They want to believe. They have questions, I think we all do. I’m 64 years old, and I’m still looking for answers.” Junior defensive back Dominick Brown, a Mansfield resident who attends Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown, feels his faith strengthens after every session. “Each meeting means a lot to me,” Brown said. “We always talk about our struggles and how we can overcome those struggles. I always feel great after every meeting.” Senior running back/linebacker Evan Collins, an Allentown resident who is not Catholic, said he feels the Bible study has

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Sixteen members of Lawrenceville’s Notre Dame High School football Bible study group pose with Eagles coach Doug Pederson at Pederson’s Faith and Football Dinner at the Philadelphia Marriott earlier this summer. Courtesy photo

truly helped strengthen his faith. “Everything I do, I know that I have God to lean on when it gets tough,” Collins said. “One of the main reasons I came to Notre Dame instead of my local high school was to come to know more about my faith. The Bible study group has definitely been a huge help.” Each meeting opens with a prayer from Father Parzynski, who then oversees the spiritual side of things by handing out packets from different Readings and Scriptures. The group discusses the handouts and everyone is given an opportunity for input. It concludes with McKenna and Father Parzynski reflecting on the passages and prayer. “It’s very inspirational,” Buecker said. The club’s origin started last football season when Buecker was watching a game at the home of teammate and fellow Philadelphia Eagles fan Sam Ponticello. They watched, with interest, a special on coach Doug Pederson and how faith affected his life, and soon suggested to McKenna that he watch a tape of the show online. McKenna loved what he saw and wasted little time in starting the Bible study. Shortly thereafter, McKenna – who sometimes works with the Eagles training staff – was speaking at a strength clinic at the Philly training facility and talked about the Bible study. “Some of the guys from the Eagles said, ‘Wow, Pederson would love that,’” McKenna said. One thing led to another and with help from an anonymous donor, 16 members of the study group attended Pederson’s Faith and Football Dinner at the Philadelphia Marriott, which was sponsored by the American Bible Society. Notre Dame was the only high school group among the 900 attendees at the June event. “Pederson made a big fuss over the team,” McKenna said. “He talked to them. It was great.” “It was fantastic,” said Buecker, an Al-

For an expanded version of this story, visit >News>Sports lentown resident who attends St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square. “They had a group of people that shared the same excitement for the faith as we did. Of course they had Doug Peterson and other ex-players there, who you’d really never know they have the faith they possess until they got on the stage and talked about it; and how educated in the faith they were. It was very insightful.” McKenna feels that the Eagles’ path to the Super Bowl was due, in part, to the team’s many Christian devotees that helped form a bond of positive belief throughout the team. He feels the same thing can occur with Notre Dame. “How many times have you seen teams come together, and you say, ‘Wow, how are they winning?’” McKenna said. “Look at the Eagles. They believed in each other. That’s what we’re starting to see with our study. We’ve gone from 18 to 30 guys. The word gets out, and all of a sudden they become a group. I don’t think it can hurt. It makes you believe in each other.” The coach is quick to add that the goal is not to make a better football team, but to make better people of the football players. “You’ve got to develop the total package, and that’s strong mind, strong body, strong faith, strong life,” said McKenna, who plans on expanding the group to other Irish teams. “We’re in a day and age where kids are committing suicide and everything like that, and I think you can’t hurt by putting this out for them. Not jamming it down their throats, but putting it out there for them. The ones who want to grab it, grab it.” The good news for Notre Dame – and the Christian community in general – is that an increasing amount of young men are grabbing it with gusto.

AUGUST 23, 2018 •


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The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

A Student’s Prayer for a New School Year

Teachers embracing new learning initiatives Continued from • S3

in fact, the talents of all learners. When students’ interests, needs and abilities are taken into consideration, students become active explorers. Learning becomes intriguing and driven by a desire for greater, in-depth knowledge and expression through real-life application and innovation. Digital leadership and learning also complement changing times. A proven framework harnesses the power of digital technology for relevant, engaging and inspiring learning. Principals will be inspired as they consider the positive results that flow from digital learning – student self-directed learning, creativity and empowerment. Teachers seek to build classroom communities based on acceptance, understanding and kindness. They address the development of the whole child – the spiritual, behavioral, social, emotional and academic areas. Building resiliency refers to adapting to difficult and challenging life experiences in which students develop social competencies, problem-solving skills, self-discipline, self-esteem and a sense of independence. Students learn to handle stress and respond positively as they are exposed to these skill sets. A year of learning unfolds for students, teachers, administrators and school com-

munities! As the 2018 school year becomes a reality, the commitment to work for the higher good of all is made each day. This commitment is enriched by the many individuals who invest not only their personal resources but also the gifts of their energy, their ideas, and their creative thinking to solve problems. This commitment is made by all who value Catholic education. Each contributes to support tomorrow’s leaders.

We are blessed and strengthened by this involvement. As citizens of the 21st century, an age with challenges like so many other periods in time, we recognize that we are all students sharing our gifts. We recommit to a new school year. We explore new thinking and opportunities. We face challenges together. We ask God for the grace to choose wisely, to be people of courage, and always, to be guided by his love.

Updated curriculum for diocesan schools Continued from • S3

highlighted in the guidelines. The National Percentile score for Language arts and reading are always higher than 70 percent of the students across the nation. English language arts concepts are noted as a strong attribute of a Catholic education. At the high school level, diocesan curriculum provides an overarching direction for content but individual course syllabi are developed at the local level and approved by the principal and academic council of each secondary school. As leaders in curriculum development and design, we recognize that our students are growing up in a global environment that

will require new skills as well as new knowledge. As we design and revise curriculum, we will continue to incorporate an emphasis on both the hard skills (content knowledge, the ability to collect and analyze data, proficiency in a foreign language) and soft skills (communication, problem solving, teamwork, time management and leadership) that will be essential to our students’ success in the future. On behalf of the members of the Department of Catholic Schools, we express our deep gratitude for the generosity and expertise of all of the teachers and administrators who offer their time and talent to research and design curriculum.

Lord Jesus, I ask for Your help as I begin this new school year. Allow me to experience Your presence in the many blessings You put before me. Open my eyes to the new challenges and exciting opportunities that this new school year brings. Open my heart and mind to new friends and new teachers. Give me a generous spirit to be enthusiastic with my studies and courage to accept new opportunities. Help me to be attentive to my teachers and let me experience Your presence in my new friends. Jesus, inspire me to do my best this year! Amen


AUGUST 23, 2018 •

Trenton Catholic Academy

P a u l VI H I g H S c H o o l

Scholarship Test

Trenton Catholic Academy

Saturday, October 27 • 9:00 AM

Reservations for the test, and for our fall events are available at Fall Eagle Days September and October visit dates available. Tours & Touchdowns Friday, September 21 • 6:00 PM Friday, October 19 • 6:00 PM Open House Thursday, November 15, 2018 • 6:30 to 9:00 PM Applications accepted on a rolling basis. Please visit to apply For more information please contact: Mrs. Kathleen Stewart, (856) 858-4900 ext. 336,




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The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

Diocesan, local PTAs important to Catholic schools success Story by Rose O’Connor, Correspondent


hile Parent Teacher Association boards have long been integral in the operations of a school community, their fundraising efforts and the support they provide are both needed and appreciated, now more than ever. In the Diocese of Trenton, local PTA boards are fortunate to be guided by a diocesan PTA, a governing body that has served all of the Catholic schools for 93 years. Paula Pangilinan – a member of St. James Parish, Red Bank, and former PTA president of the parish school as well as Monmouth/Ocean regent – became the diocesan PTA president last year. She recounted highlights of how the diocesan PTA supported the local PTA boards, noting as one example a PTA retreat this past March held at Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton. “The retreat day was designed to give back to the amazing volunteers and school administrators. It was a morning of reflection, inspiration and knowledge,” she said. “It was our hope that all who attended left with knowledge and tools to help make our PTAs as successful as possible.” The day included representatives from the schools, the diocesan PTA Board and

the Office of Catholic Education, who all had the opportunity to attend four breakout sessions on the topics of fundraising, volunteers, social media and NJ Gaming laws and licensing.

“This is what we are here for, to serve our local PTA boards and giving them the tools to be successful.”

Burlington/Mercer regent. “It certainly exceeded expectations, and the folks that I spoke with were so appreciative of the information and the opportunity.” Pangilinan said that is what the diocesan PTA is all about. “This is what we are here for, to serve our local PTA boards and giving them the tools to be successful,” she said. “Each school PTA has a distinctive personality and are managed differently. We provide the resources and best practices to help each PTA reach their full potential and do their best.”

Working Together Pangilinan also reviewed the PTA president’s handbook that had been revised in 2015, approved by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and updated this past year. “It was a fabulous day,” said Kerri Chewning, former PTA president at St. Paul School, Burlington, and current diocesan

Student volunteers from Trenton Catholic Academy, along with diocesan PTA hospitality chair, Donna Murray, assist during the March PTA retreat hosted by TCA.

This year, in keeping with the theme of “giving back,” Pangilinan also plans to assist the local PTA boards, namely through the creation of the Outstanding PTA Leadership Award, for which all PTAs in the Diocese of Trenton will be eligible to apply. The proposed monetary award of $2,500 will be presented annually at the Fall Conference, beginning in September 2019. “This is our opportunity to acknowledge those organizations who are active and follow the constitution and bylaws, while still maintaining their own distinct personalities,” Pangilinan said. Providing various supports and raising funds to supplement operating budgets of diocesan schools represent main focal points of PTAs across the Diocese of Trenton. One PTA that has raised an impressive amount of money each year through a gift basket auction is based in St. Veronica School, Howell. Elia Landino, who has served as PTA president, vice president and now serves as chair of the auction – which will be held this year on March 8 – noted that the annual event can net the school anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000, and is the largest fundraiser for the school. Landino said that much of the gift auction’s success is due to Resurrection Sister Cherree Power, principal; Father Vincent Euk, pastor of St. Veronica Parish, and Deacon Gino Esposito, business manager,

School PTA representatives and members of the diocesan PTA board and Office of Catholic Education gather in Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, for a March retreat. Courtesy photos

who have all assisted the PTA and provided support and guidance with fundraising efforts along the day. “Sister Cherree has and continues to build a culture based on unity in our community,” Landino said. “She has always made sure to select leaders whose hearts and intentions are truly dedicated to help advance our school.” Landino continued, “Father Euk and Deacon Gino trust in those who are leading our parents in the planning, preparation and execution of the auction. With so many dedicated parents who give of themselves freely for the love and benefit of the children, there is no question as to why the auction is a huge success. The reward is great when love is invested.”

‘Engaging Families’ Elsa Pagano, diocesan PTA treasurer and former board member for the PTA in St. Jerome School, West Long Branch, reflected on how fundraising contributes to a school’s financial stability and overall morale. While there might be parents who question the need for fundraising in addition to paying tuition, Pagano said that support does not always mean monetary support – support can also mean parents’ “time and presence at PTA meetings,” as well as helping with bake sales, selling raffle tickets and leading committees. “In a Catholic school, tuition alone does not cover the entire cost of educating a student. Fundraising is a means of bridging that gap,” she explained. “With rising costs and declines in enrollment, it becomes more and more important to find new and creative ways of engaging families to want to support Catholic education.”

AUGUST 23, 2018 •

Strong ties. journeys.




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The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

Social justice is built into Catholic school curriculum By Chaz Muth, Catholic News Service and Staff Reports

WASHINGTON • At many Catholic schools, social justice might not be an assigned class, but it is part of the fabric of what they do throughout the school year from helping those in need to speaking up on social issues. And in the past few years during various protests around the country, Catholic school students have raised their voices or called attention to issues of racism, gun violence, care for refugees or the unborn. This past year was no exception. After the school shooting Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, several Catholic schools across the country sponsored awareness programs for students or provided time for prayer, reflection and action to curb gun violence during the nationwide studentsponsored event called National School Walkout. And weeks after that, Catholic school students also participated in the March for Our Lives events protesting gun violence in Washington and other locations. Teenagers within the Diocese of Trenton joined those of tens of thousands across the United States March 14 for “National School Walkout,” an event for public and nonpublic students alike to show solidarity

with victims of school violence. Exactly one month after the Parkland shooting, students in six of the Diocese’s schools – Donovan Catholic, Toms River; St. John Vianney, Holmdel; Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton; Holy Cross Academy, Delran; St. Rose, Belmar, and Notre Dame, Lawrenceville – gathered on their respective campuses to pray for a safe environment in all schools. Over the public address system of St. John Vianney High School, Jeff Johnson led a prayer that set a distinct tone as students gathered in the hallway to join hands, hearts and voices in solidarity with communities scarred by violence. “Our conventional wisdom tells us to appeal to lawmakers who will keep us safe, and so we should. But that’s only part of the solution,” said Johnson, campus minister and teacher of English and theology at the Holmdel school. “Listen to how God encourages us in Psalm 121 to enlist his help in time of need: ‘I raise my eyes to the mountains. From where shall come my help? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.’” “We are predominantly Christian in this country, and this is one of the main elements in the religion – to care for other people. What better way to show it?” said Jay Izzo, 18, of Nativity Parish, Fair Haven.

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Students embrace following the March 14 prayer service held on the grounds of Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville. Joe Moore photo

Izzo, a senior in Red Bank Regional High School, helped organize a peaceful rally March 24 in Red Bank by enlisting the help of fellow students from his creative writing class and local politicians. More than 2,000 people of all ages took part. The march began with participants walking from the train station, down Broad Street and to the Monmouth County town’s Riverside Gardens Park. Izzo and the students joined with state representatives such as Sen. Vin Gopal (D-11) and Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone. Mercy High School in San Francisco observed 17 minutes of silence a month after the Florida school shooting and the student body president, Mogan Hildula, said she was confident her generation could make a difference to stop the violence. “Despite urgent cries spanning the nation, our schools and greater communities continue to be threatened by senseless and preventable gun violence,” she said, adding that she views what is happening as a call to action.

“I believe our generation will be the ones to actually effect change in our nation’s policies regarding firearms, and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish,” she said. For some Catholic school students, the lack of action on the part of the nation’s leaders has been distressing. “Gun violence is unnecessary and can be prevented,” said Sydney Meyer, a senior at Assumption High School in Louisville, Kentucky. “The fact that we haven’t acted on it is ridiculous.” Meyer and 30 of her schoolmates spent 32 hours traveling, marching and rallying for gun control with hundreds of thousands of others who gathered in Washington for the March for Our Lives, which called for stricter gun control, including a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks. Contributing to this report were Tom Burke in San Francisco, Marnie McAllister in Louisville, Dan McCarthy in Philadelphia, Maureen Smith in Jackson and Carol Zimmermann in Washington.

Hearts 2 Hospitals will continue Continued from • S4

significance for the sick children and their families. One student representative from each school was present at the news conference, and because it was live-streamed, many schools aired it for all their students. This step truly served to illustrate to all elementary students throughout the Diocese the importance of their effort. All toys and gift cards were distributed to hospitals by student representatives from each of our schools. The hospitals graciously welcomed the students, providing tours, lunches and the opportunity to meet various hospital officials – from CEOs to doctors, nurses and other staff. Along with the publicity generated by each of our schools, the hospitals also included publicity in both their internal and external publications. In the case of Virtua

Foundation, located in Burlington County, the project was not only mentioned in its report, but also noted on its website with a link to our diocesan Catholic schools webpage. Because of its great success, the decision has been made to continue Hearts 2 Hospitals in the upcoming school year. Each of the hospitals, impressed with both the participation by the students and the scope of the project, has promised a more active role, from providing tours to sending guest speakers to our schools. Hearts 2 Hospitals truly did everything it intended. It rallied students to perform wonderful acts of service. It created lasting community partners. It publicized – through social media, print and various hospital publications – the great work done by elementary students in the Diocese of Trenton. Most importantly, it helped those in need.


AUGUST 23, 2018 •



Action Shots


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Our shared story told in beautiful and dramatic photos.


The Monitor • AUGUST 23, 2018

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