FLORHAM PARK, NJ- The Holy Family School has been a staple of the Florham Park community for over 60 years. With 173 students in attendance, the school opened its doors in September of 1954 and received its inaugural blessing the subsequent month by Bishop James McNulty.
The motto of the Holy Family School is, “Lessons for the Head and Heart.” This has lead them through the years to provide not only the knowledge needed to succeed in life, but also the lessons of the heart to live life in a meaningful and faith-filled manner. It is with great regret that Holy Family School has announced that they will be scaling back these lessons from a full pre-kindergarten through eighth grade educational system to a pre-kindergarten through second grade one.
“Enrollment in the upper grades was just so low we couldn’t get ahead of it,” said Dawn Paskalides, Principal at Holy family. “Father Thomas and the diocese had a difficult decision to make when closing it.”
This comes at an unfortunate time for the school as recent studies showed nothing but positives for the changes put into place in the past year. Surveys showed across the board that parents and students alike were excited and invigorated by the program. The administration made several changes to the school and the feel inside the halls and the morale of the families and staff was high in spite of the dwindling numbers.
Even with the narrowing focus there is still hope. “We are very glad that we are able to keep open the lower grades,” said Father Thomas Riekell. “So many parishes have had to close completely. We continue.”
Not only will the Holy Family School continue, but it has even kept on thinking of new ways to help the community. This year will see the advent of a day care system that will be available to the public. The funds raised by this program will be put aside and used to help students who are looking for that parochial school education that have trouble meeting the cost.
“The daycare is a nonprofit and provides a way for us to generate enough income to help subsidize some families that can’t afford a catholic education,” Paskalides went on to say. “We can help some families. We have the room and it will just be another add-on to how great this school is.”
Of course injecting some new life into the school will help out as well. The strong pre-kindergarten through second grade program continues at Holy Family and doesn’t show signs of stopping. These students have directly seen the impact of the recent changes at the school and enrollment at this level is on the rise from past years.
“We hope that with the daycare we can increase enrollment in pre-k through kindergarten, first and second grade when First Communion is celebrated. It is such an important sacrament for children and for parents,” Father Thomas continued. “We then hope to reopen third, fourth grade and above. That is our hope.”
It is a hope echoed by the staff and students of Holy Family School that have found a home in its walls.
“We truly are like a family,” Paskalides said, describing the atmosphere in the school. “We had a student start recently and every single student wrote notes welcoming her to the school. There was not a single teacher or student who did not participate in welcoming her. That’s who they are. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be principal of this school.”
This is a formula that has worked to bring schools back in the past and with a strong foundation of young students, the upper grades can be back up and running in a few short years. Holy Family School continues to look to the future and its place in Florham Park’s educational community.