VERONA, NJ - For more than 90 years, Our Lady of the Lake School has been educating students and preparing them for life in general. What started out as a small parish school in 1923 has grown to a multi-building campus with a reputation for providing quality education, earning it two consecutive National Blue Ribbon awards.
"At Our Lady of the Lake, we offer a rigorous academic trajectory along with a nurturing spiritual and emotional environment that allows each student to blossom and be their absolute best,” said Principal Ben Ronquillo. "We have innovative strategies, top-notched technology and engaging resources, yes, but it is OLL's inviting and close-knit community that inspires faculty, students and parents to excel."
“I chose OLL for my children’s education because it is an academically strong school with a warm, inviting ambiance, and teachers who are engaging and attentive,” said Angela Kahng who has children in fourth and third grade, as well as kindergarten. “The last four years have confirmed my initial impression as the school has continued to provide an academically enriching curriculum in a positive, nurturing environment.”
OLL earned its first Blue Ribbon Award in 2011. Schools must apply for consideration to the U.S. Department of Education and then be nominated for contention. Once a school receives Blue Ribbon status, the award term lasts for five years. After the term expires, school’s can apply again, but it is rare to receive the recognition more than once -- OLL earned its second Blue Ribbon Status just a few weeks ago. In 2017, only 343 schools were awarded Blue Ribbons. OLL was one of 50 private schools to earn the award with more than 120,000 private schools nationwide.
“Our Lady of the Lake School is fortunate of be the recipient of two consecutive National Blue Ribbon Awards for Academic Excellence. This designation means that Our Lady of the Lake students scored in the top 15% across the nation in Reading and Mathematics as measured by a nationally normed test,” said teacher Beth Grimes.
“This achievement is the result of the continued dedication of the administration, faculty, and parents collaborating to help each student reach their highest academic potential. The OLL Community is extremely proud of this award given to Our Lady of the Lake School by the United States Department of Education,” added teacher Bethanne McNamara.
OLL School first opened its doors shortly after the church became a parish in September 1923, boasting 120 students taught by the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell. The school’s first graduation was held in 1925. A fundraising drive in 1932 led to the construction of a new school building which housed 10 modern classrooms, a principal’s office, a library, kitchen and dining room. As the parish population continued to grow, a second school building known as the Montrose Building was erected. The growth also led to a new church building which allowed the old church building to be converted into a gymnasium to accommodate the expanding sports programs at OLL and the lower church became an auditorium.
Currently the school educates approximately 250 students in grades K-8. Ronquillo stepped in as principal in July 2015, bringing with him more than 13 years of experience in Catholic education, having served as a second grade teacher, technology integration specialist, and acting principal, as well as being involved in sports programs as both a coach and athletic director.
“Our principal, Mr. Ronquillo, is involved and present in every way at the school. I see him every morning outside welcoming students to school and making sure that they are safe in the parking lot, conversing with the students during lunchtime, and playing with them at recess. Furthermore, he has a clear vision for the future of our school and is always striving to make changes and improvements,” Kahng noted. “In addition, our teachers are not only committed to education, but they are also genuine and caring individuals who have gone out of their way on many occasions to meet with me about my children. This shows their dedication to their roles, and it is evident how much they care for the students.”
OLL prides itself on its dedication to the Catholic School mission, ensuring that the school provides a Christ-centered learning environment that promotes faith formation, personal responsibility, academic achievement and social awareness. In addition, OLL embraces diversity, continuing to welcome families of other faiths.
“The best thing about being a student at OLL is the community,” said eighth grader Marykate Dougherty. “All of the students, teachers, and faculty really support each other in the goal to keep improving.”
In addition to rigorous academics, OLL offers extracurricular activities such as basketball, volleyball, Boy and Girl Scouts, forensics, art, chess and book clubs, and TREP$. OLL will be hosting several Open Houses throughout the year for interested parents and students. The first is Nov. 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, visit the Open House or call 973-239-1160 for a private tour.