William J. Stonis
William J. Stonis

By Dorothy K. LaMantia, Correspondent

When 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 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 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 the school’s reorganization and search for a new principal.    

“This new beginning is a tremendous challenge, which we accept with open arms,” he said.

Currently, there are 265 students enrolled, with a staff of 25 (full and part-time), plus adjuncts. “We have a great team,” Stonis said. “Having administration and faculty working together is vital to the success of a school.”

Asked about his vision for Holy Cross Prep, he said, “We’re out to expand academic programs and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs to keep pace with the world’s changing demands.  In three to five years, we hope to include performing arts.”

Stonis, who has been married to his wife, Cathy, for 40 years and has two sons, is a member of Holy Spirit Parish, Mullica Hill, in the Diocese of Camden. He called Catholic education “the lifeline of our faith.”

“Having kids attend and graduate from Catholic schools is crucial to the community,” he said. “We need to educate youth on their faith and incorporate its teachings into all we do.”

Stonis said he envisions the school having a mission to local Catholic grade schools.

“Right now we are getting to know each other and assessing needs.  Possibly students can tutor elementary students in academic areas.  We will be looking to see how we can assist and give back to neighboring schools.”