Holy Cross Academy celebrates new status with Bishop O’Connell

Bishop O’Connell exchanges conversation and a few fist bumps while visiting sixth, seventh and eighth graders during their lunch period. John Batkowski photos


From Staff Reports

The way students, faculty, administration and family members saw it, there was no better way to officially recognize that Holy Cross School is now Holy Cross Academy than to have a Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

And much to everyone from the Rumson Catholic school’s delight, that is exactly what happened Oct. 3.

“Having Bishop O’Connell celebrate Mass was an honor for the Holy Cross Academy community,” Dr. Mark C. DeMareo, principal, said reflectively.

“For our students, it reinforced and supported the deepening of our students’ faith in a visible way. Faculty, students and parents all agreed that there is a strong feeling of pride about their school, faith and community.”

Highlights of the Mass, which was concelebrated by Father Michael Manning, pastor of Holy Cross Parish, included the presence of a number of dignitaries including Rep. Christopher Smith; Joan Schloeder, district director for Congressman Smith; Joseph Hemphill, mayor of Rumson; Officer Lieutenant Christopher York, and staff from the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools — JoAnn Tier, superintendent; Daniel O’Connell, associate director for curriculum and instruction, and Judy Nicastro, associate director of school services/data management/marketing.

In addition, the Bishop had a chance to learn about some of the new initiatives that are underway at Holy Cross Academy including that a new math curriculum for grades K-8. A bonus of the curriculum includes a restructuring of math tracking for middle school students which can allow advanced eighth-grade math students to complete high school Algebra 1 before they graduate. Also, according to Dr. DeMareo, the academy has become Project Lead the Way STEM certified which means that in addition to daily science and weekly technology classes, the students will also benefit from weekly STEM classes in a dedicated STEM lab. And then, he added, there is also the newly integrated  Catholic virtue-based character education program that will pave the way for Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline “which is a beautiful process for teaching children to recognize, pray over and make up for mistakes they have made in a loving understanding way.” 

Dr. DeMareo smiled when he said he that Bishop O’Connell seemed to enjoy observing the students in action by visiting various classrooms as well as the new STEM/IT and art room. The Bishop also had a chance to meet with the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students during their lunch period in the cafeteria.

“Many high-fives were exchanged by the Bishop and students along with rousing applause by students,” the principal said.

As a token of appreciation to Bishop O’Connell for taking the time to commemorate the new Holy Cross Academy, Dr. DeMareo said the community presented the Bishop with a cut crystal paperweight.

“Just seeing how excited everyone got when they learned the Bishop was coming highlights the importance of his visit and especially to mark the event with the most important celebration we can have as a Catholic community – the Eucharist,” said Father Manning. “It is a blessing not only to have had his support as we planned the academy but also as we step into the future.

“The Bishop’s visit to the classrooms was an even further boost to school spirit and enthusiasm,” Father Manning said.

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