In person or online, open houses geared to give families the full high school experience

Catholic high schools around the Diocese are hosting open houses for eighth grade students and their families.Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Trenton have been working diligently to ensure that their annual open houses – whether in person or online – convey a crucial message.

“We want parents to see the hard work our students put in to not only their academics, but also their faith,” said Maryanne Bedford, director of admissions for St. Rose High School, Belmar.

With groups of people limited for safety reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are  making use of smaller, in-person open house tours or streaming technology to show what their Catholic schools have to offer.

“Catholic educators continue to persevere even when faced with the challenges of the pandemic. Our primary purpose is to teach students, guided by the Gospel values and Roman Catholic traditions,” said Margaret Kane, principal of St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel.

As part of its open house season, the school is holding in-person tours by appointment, limiting the number of tours per day.

“Catholic schools have been able to open this fall because we are driven to give students the best learning experience possible in the safest environment,” said Kane, stressing the importance of keeping the student body and visitors healthy. “Students will always come first in Catholic schools.”

Holy Cross Preparatory Academy, Delran, decided to hold on-campus open houses, taking the one large annual event and splitting it into three. Families must pre-register for the one-hour blocks, with no more than 10 families allowed on campus at a time.

“Every family who attends will receive a private tour of campus, led by a student, before having the opportunity to speak with faculty, administration and parents to address any questions they may have,” said David Moffa, assistant principal and director of admissions. “We are also offering private family tours after school hours during the week.”

He continued, “While the events are certainly different, the new setup provides a more intimate, personalized experience for each family.”

Bedford explained that she has been available for daily in-person tours after school at St. Rose, as well as phone and video chats. “We will be opening up more in person events as soon as we can safely have groups of visitors on campus,” she assured.

All three schools also have virtual tours planned – pre-recorded as well as live phone or video calls.

“Our Virtual Open Houses program will begin Oct. 9. We will run several live, and pre-recorded events,” Bedford said, noting, “With virtual events, sometimes it is hard to get a real feel for the school community, but parents should know that, even though things are different right now, we are still helping to guide students on their faith journey.”

Moffa said Holy Cross Prep is holding virtual admissions meetings for people who feel more comfortable speaking from home. “Our students are also putting together videos to document their student experience so that eighth-graders may get an idea what a school day is like from the student perspective.”

Kelly Meany, SJVHS alumni and public relations coordinator, said the school will have a virtual tour available Oct. 8. “This will be located on our website for those interested in seeing the inside of SJVHS,” she explained. “We will also have more specific videos from different departments available on our website. We are [also] offering parents the opportunity to speak with members of the SJVHS administration via Zoom calls.”

Above all, Catholic high school representatives want parents and prospective students to know that the whole person is recognized and educated at their schools.

“Our hope is that parents walk away with the understanding that each and every student is valued,” Moffa stressed. “Our community is a tightly-knit family, where students get to know their teachers and classmates on a more individual level. We want to ensure that our students grow not just academically, but also spiritually and socially, so that they are prepared for their future careers and the challenges ahead.”

Kane agreed, “Staff who work at our schools choose to be there for the students and their families. I am proud to be part of a Catholic school community as we stand apart from other educational institutions. We stand together to create lifelong learners who are united by faith.”

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