Students of St. Peter School, Point Pleasant Beach, demonstrated their school’s 100-year journey with each class dressing in clothing of a different decade for an April 29 parade and block party. The celebration was moved to the school gym due to inclement weather. 
Carter Hillsdon photos
Students of St. Peter School, Point Pleasant Beach, demonstrated their school’s 100-year journey with each class dressing in clothing of a different decade for an April 29 parade and block party. The celebration was moved to the school gym due to inclement weather. Carter Hillsdon photos

From its opening in 1923 with 60 students as the first Catholic school in Ocean County to generation upon generation returning, St. Peter School in Point Pleasant Beach has made an indelible mark on the Jersey Shore communities it serves – and hopes to keep serving for many years to come.

“That a Catholic school has reached 100 years is a feat to be celebrated not just on one day, but all year long,” said Tracy Kobrin, principal. “What sets SPS apart from other schools in the area is a very family-caring community. The priests at St. Peter’s are Franciscan, and they live that message every day.”

The school’s centennial celebration, which began with Catholic Schools Week in January, will include events throughout the year for current school families and staff, alumni, parishioners and the community at large.


On the heels of a March 18 Jubilee Gala and an April 10 Gift Auction, the school hosted a Journey Through the Decades parade and block party, April 29, that was open to the public. Even though the event was moved indoors because of rain, the celebration continued with gusto.

Across its 100-year history, St. Peter School has adapted to changing education requirements, opening a new science lab in 2007 – which includes two bearded dragons, a Chinese water dragon and four fish – and adopting a STREAM-based program (Science, Technology, Religion, Art and Math).

“Our staff goes above and beyond in their instruction to incorporate the components of a true, rigorous, quality Catholic education while making it fun for the students,” Kobrin said, pointing out that the school has been recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and a State School of Character.

Recent grade-level projects, Kobrin described, included a seventh-grade performance of Living Stations of the Cross, fifth-grade blindfolded journey to incorporate lessons on empathy and disability awareness, fourth-grade saints research and presentations, first-grade Oobleck creation for Dr. Seuss Day and Pre-K4 healthy eating lesson.

A Life-long Family

Current SPS students and alumni alike have been eager to share what has made St. Peter’s such an important part of their lives.

“SPS in the 1950s was like a second family; everyone in the school knew everyone else,” said Patricia Maher Brewer, class of 1959. She was present for the 1956-1957 transition to the new school building. ““The Sisters of the Holy Union of the Sacred Hearts were somehow able to manage classes that often numbered about 60 students, with two grade levels in the same room,” Maher recalled, noting that the sisters “must have been excellent teachers as well as masters of crowd control.”

She remembers a fun-loving vibe, with the sisters teaching them the Irish jig and songs and watching movies on Friday afternoons. “The sisters often joked that the initials of their order – SUSC – meant ‘Send Us Some Candy,’” Brewer quipped. But they also assured students learned the parts of the Mass, the importance of the Sacraments, prayers and hymns. “We were exposed to the lives of the saints and were encouraged to pray for and donate money to the poor, both at home and overseas.”

“I feel like I have a life-long family … I send my children there now and hope they have the same experience,” said Megan Baglivio Miller, class of 1998, who has volunteered on the centennial events planning committee, and has been a teacher in various schools. The families of SPS, she attests, “are unlike any other I’ve seen; their dedication to this school and their children is unending.”

“St. Peter School has a tremendous impact on who I am today because of the strong Catholic values I was taught,” said Victoria Decos-Larrison, class of 1992, whose family has attended SPS for four generations; her daughter will graduate in 2026. “I am confident that my daughter will receive the same values and grow up as a strong believer in her Catholic faith; St. Peter School is top notch education!”

Mary Basso, class of 1959, said that “St. Peter School fostered a social justice perspective in me, which deepened during my studies and career at Georgian Court University, dedicated to its Catholic Mercy mission. I am forever grateful to St. Peter’s for giving me a foundation of Catholic social teaching that is still with me over 65 years later.”

Former SPS parent Kenneth Kerwin, class of 1967, found his experience of SPS “was not of a Monday through Friday school, because it incorporated a life of attending Mass, being an altar boy and participating in sports, which were a part of everyday life.” It was a place that “over time became an idyllic community, where the structure, friendships and family involvement was so positive.” He recalled that it was years after his SPS education that he realized “how important my faith was, and that the foundation of my spiritual life came from St. Peter’s.”

A Place to Grow

“I couldn’t be happier to go to such an amazing school with so many wonderful teachers and friends,” said current SPS sixth-grader Alyssa. “I have been here since kindergarten, and my teachers have helped me to grow a lot.”

Fourth-grader Mia, who hopes to teach at SPS someday, believes that “the best thing I see every day is the happiest smile on the teachers’ faces … they take so much time out of their life to teach us and help us blossom and grow. I always walk into school knowing that I am loved and cared about.”

Francesca, seventh grade, considers SPS an environment where she has been able to grow and thrive. “With great friends and peers who motivate and encourage me and others, connection of faith and academic excellence, there is no better opportunity,” she said. “St. Peter School enriches me and pushes me toward my full potential.”

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