Parents and Faculty of Award-Winning Elementary School Successfully Petition Archdiocese of Newark to Reconsider Imminent Closure
School Will Remain Open and Transition as a Parish-Run School Thanks to the Petition SIgned by More Than 1,400 Faculty, Parents, Students, and Alumni and Pledge Drive Raising More Than $400K
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The Academy of Our Lady of Peace (AOLP) in New Providence, NJ will remain open for the 2020—2021 school year, despite an attempt by the Archdiocese of Newark to close the award-winning elementary school. In response to the sudden closure announcement, the faculty, parents, and alumni of the Academy collected nearly 1,500 signatures and 450 comments in an online petition urging the archdiocese to reevaluate their decision to close the beloved and award-winning blue ribbon school. In addition, a 3- year pledge drive was started by the AOLP school advisory board which has so far rendered over $413K in support for the school. The Archdiocese engaged in a conversation and over the course of a week and several discussions, an agreement was made to revert the school to local parish control.
The school advisory board for the Academy is confident about the future of the school. “This is not a one-and-done deal. We are planning for the long term,” the board told parents last week. Current families and teachers each met separately with the board. Each of those discussions stressed financial transparency going forward. In addition, the board outlined the areas of focus for both the short and long term success of the school. Finally, their message stressed that the communication between all parties is essential to the success of this new venture.
“We are thrilled that the Archdiocese was willing to work with us and see the commitment from the members of the AOLP community. The Academy is an important home to so many wonderful families and we look forward to having the school open another 66 years and beyond,” states Suzanne Fahy, Home School Association Board President, and mother of three current students and one alumna.
The Academy of Our Lady of Peace community empathizes with the families of the schools that remain on the closing list and have reached out to offer a different option for Catholic education in our area--a school under local control that retains a link to the archdiocese for advice and support. Enrollment for the children of any family interested in the values taught within a faith-based school, and small class sizes combined with high academic standards, is open at the Academy. Please contact Suzanne Fahy @ firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Academy of Our Lady of Peace
The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Peace was founded in February 1919 and by December of that year the first Mass in the new church was offered. In 1952 the present site on South Street was purchased. A school and basement church of dual-use design was ready for its first Mass in October of 1954. During the 1950’s New Providence was growing faster than the parish planners had envisioned. The plans for the church complex were enlarged and work began on more classrooms over the basement church and on the construction of a new multi-purpose room to serve as church, auditorium, cafeteria and gymnasium.
In 2004, the school celebrated its 50th Anniversary. School parents, teachers, administration, parish members and alumni celebrated in the school auditorium with a wonderful dinner and various guest speakers.
In 2006, the school achieved a major milestone and received accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
In 2008, the school was officially approved by the Archdiocese of Newark to become an academy. The school administration, faculty, School Advisory Council and Home School Association all played a role in obtaining this honor and designation. The Archdiocese has set forth guidelines that encompass six areas: curriculum, instruction, accreditation, total formation, activities and governance. As a result, the school has been officially renamed to The Academy of Our Lady of Peace.
In order to achieve Academy status, a school must meet stringent criteria including additional curriculum requirements, a gifted and talented program, academically related activities, an Early Childhood program, and religious education. The school must also be accredited by the Middle States Association and have an active advisory board to assist the pastor and principal. As part of the review process the Archdiocese visited with school representatives, teachers and students and took note of the school’s excellent credentials.
After a lengthy process, the Archdiocese of Newark informed Our Lady of Peace School that its application to become an Academy was approved. The Archdiocese congratulated the school, stating that “truly the hard work of this community has created an academy where students and teachers strive for excellence, where they build up one another through encouragement and challenge, and where all achieve as a result of the dynamic teaching/learning interaction.”
Brother Ralph Darmento, Deputy Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Newark, states, “Academy designation implies that special skills and subjects are taught. It is not merely a merging of schools and inserting the word ‘academy’ into the school’s new name. There are very specific academic standards and enrichment programs that academies must have in order to earn that name.” Brother Darmento authored the guidelines for academy status in the archdiocese.
For more information:
Home School Association Board President