SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- It was a first day of school unlike any other in the seven decade history of St. Bart's Academy in Scotch Plains.

The school year started Friday morning with a welcoming for PreK-3 and PreK-4 students. You might not be able to tell, but there were lots of smiles beneath those masks, and the students and teachers are looking forward to a wonderful year of making friends, learning, and staying healthy.

This week marked a lot of new beginnings, including for SBA's new principal, Joel Castillo.

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"The traditional red carpet welcome looked slightly different at St Bartholomew Academy for the 2020/2021 school year, but staff spirits were high and students were excited to be back in class.," Castillo said. "S.B.A has made all the necessary adjustments to make the school day safe for our students and staff."

The rest of the student body celebrated their first day on Monday, Sept. 14. Returning students will find some things different from last year. Everyone will wear masks, of course, and hand sanitizers greet entrance at the two main doorways to the school. Students are separated by plexiglass, and the cafeteria and gymnasium have been converted into classrooms in order to comply with social distancing requirements. 

"The faculty and staff at S.B.A were filled with joy as they saw our school building come back alive with the precious sounds of students actively engaged in their instructional day," Castillo added. "We are blessed as a community with dedicated families that continuously support all school efforts in providing their children with the advantage of a Catholic education."

St. Bartholomew Academy (2032 Westfield Ave., Scotch Plains) is dedicated to offering students the opportunity of growing in the faith, of accepting its values, and of living the principles of truth, charity, and Christian hope. In this environment, SBA students are encouraged to strive for their maximum academic potential and spiritual growth. In keeping with this mission, students are encouraged to 1) Strive academically, 2) Build character, and 3) Achieve their goals. For more information, call (908) 322-4265.