From staff reports
A sea of smiles washed over the parents, students and teachers of the Diocese of Trenton as elementary and high schools opened wide their doors this week to commence the 2017-2018 school year.
The student body of Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly, was enthusiastically greeted by their pastor, Father John Czahur. “I love it,” he said. “It’s too quiet around here during the summer. The students give a lot of life to the campus.”
As she watched her seventh-grade son, Ronald, and fifth-grade daughter, Julia, heading into school, Lisa Kopcho spoke of how important it was for her to provide her two children with a Catholic education.
“They’re following in my footsteps,” Kopcho said, as she told about her own Catholic education upbringing in St. Joseph School and Monsignor Donovan Catholic High School, both Toms River. She finds the environment to be warm and welcoming and “it is like one big family when everyone in the school gets together.”
Another veteran of Catholic schools, teacher Judith Jones of St. John Vianney High School, is beginning her 47th year of teaching in the Holmdel secondary school.
“I’m eager to work with the new staff and new ideas,” Jones said.
Two students in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Asbury Park, echoed that enthusiasm. Eighth-grade student Kyree Drake noted he was “looking forward to preparing for high school and the different class projects I will encounter this year.”
Fellow OLMC student fourth-grader Katherine Santos said she anticipated “making new friends and getting good grades.” As for why she appreciated the gift of Catholic education, she responded, “Not a lot of kids get this experience, and I am one of the lucky ones.”
Teachers in All Saints Regional Catholic School, Manahawkin, planned an interesting collaboration this school year. Barbara Panagis, the school’s sixth- and seventh-grade science teacher, and Angela Weimer, who teaches technology, are excited to lead their students in a new project: building drones. “They will build them from scratch and program them, and if we have time, the goal is to try to create a delivery system within the school,” Panagis said.
Lina Hollendonner of St. Raphael School, Hamilton, works in the school office and is parent of children in the first, third and eighth grades. “Catholic schooling means everything to me,” she said fervently. “Faith is the center of everything we do in our home. I cannot imagine going somewhere for six hours a day and not having that continued. There’s a lot of darkness in the world and we really teach the children here to be that light.”