A newly refurbished classroom in St. Mary School, Middletown, is ready to welcome students to the new school year. Courtesy photo
A newly refurbished classroom in St. Mary School, Middletown, is ready to welcome students to the new school year. Courtesy photo

Catholic schools of the Diocese of Trenton are employing varied ways to ensure their students have access to the most innovative technology and best maintained facilities to aid their education this year. Two elementary Catholic schools, Sacred Heart in Mount Holly, and St. Mary, Middletown, have benefitted from unique fundraising campaigns to put their students well along the path of technology-sound practices.

Sacred Heart School was able to shift gears in their fundraising efforts as they became one of this year’s beneficiaries of the town’s annual Spellbound Century Bike Ride. More than 1,400 cyclists hailing from 16 states pedaled 20, 45, 63 or 100 miles through the countryside July 30 to raise monies intended both for Sacred Heart School and the Rancocas Nature Center, Westhampton.

Sacred Heart School principal Kathryn Jensen recalled, “It was fantastic to see the kind of support we had at this event from our school and parish,” sharing that members of the Knights of Columbus directed traffic, teachers and PTA members aided her in making sandwiches and registering participants, and “between teachers, parents, students and parishioners, we probably had about 40 volunteers.”

The event raised approximately $57,000 for the two benefitting entities; Sacred Heart School anticipates a donation of between $25,000 and $27,000 for use in updating technology in the classrooms with new Promethean smart boards. Jensen expressed joy at the town-wide event which benefitted the Catholic grammar school.

“It was always special to see so many people come through and appreciate Mount Holly, but this year, to see riders and committee members work hard and appreciate our school was really something I’ll never forget,” she said.

Middletown’s St. Mary School is in the midst of their “Building Together: Our Family, Our Faith, Our Future” campaign, which to date has raised nearly $192,000.

“The campaign was designed to support the building renovations and upgrades and provide continuity in regard to technology by standardizing what each classroom has,” explained Craig Palmer, principal. “The 68-year-old structure needed internal improvements such as a fresh coat of paint, new lighting, carpeted floors replaced with tile and technology upgrades.”

A committee of 14 parish staff, parents and alumni launched the campaign this past June. A possible donor list of 100 parishioners, local businesses and alumni attended an evening kick-off, complete with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, which featured a video presentation by Father Jeffrey Kegley, St. Mary pastor, and an explanation of campaign goals by Palmer. Palmer noted that the campaign was promoted digitally to current student families and their friends, as well as on the school website in order that the entire community might feel invested in the school’s future.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, all classrooms have been painted, including cabinetry; have had VCT tile and LED lights installed, and are slated to have 100” Epson boards and projectors installed by campaign’s end this Christmas.

“I am continually overwhelmed by the willingness of those connected to our great school to support us in every way,” Palmer noted in a recent interview with The Monitor Magazine. “Catholic education means more to people who’ve experienced it than anyone truly knows. This is why we need to continue to be who we are, ‘Academically Excellent and Passionately Catholic’ so others will have the opportunity to experience the same in the future. Praise God!”