STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Archdiocese of New York announced Monday that four Catholic elementary schools on Staten Island will merge to form two separate academies beginning in the 2020-2021 academic year.
St. Rita School in Meiers Corners will merge with St. Teresa School in Castleton Corners, forming the St. Teresa-St. Rita STREAM Academy, the Archdiocese said, while St. Adalbert’s School in Elm Park will merge with Holy Rosary School in South Beach to become the Father Vincent Capodanno Catholic Academy. The new academies will operate out of the school buildings in Castleton Corners and South Beach, respectively.
“This bold re-imagination reflects a culture of forward-thinking that will ensure a strong foundation and room for growth as Catholic education moves forward on Staten Island,” the archdiocese said in its announcement.
“Our commitment to Catholic education is as strong as ever and we have our fingers on the pulse of our communities and understand the needs they have for a high-quality education rooted in the Catholic faith,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in the release.
“We understand the impact this will have on families and will provide both pastoral support and educational guidance to all those affected in order to ensure all children will be warmly welcomed into their new Catholic school building, where they will continue to learn and thrive. Our mission is to preserve Catholic education in New York for years to come,” he added.
The new St. Teresa-St. Rita STREAM Academy will focus on “a rigorous instructional program that challenges them in a Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art, and Math (STREAM)-supported atmosphere that focuses heavily on community partnerships and project-based learning,” according to a letter sent to parents of both schools.
“The unification of both school communities will allow us to enhance existing programs, increase community partnerships and expand our preschool program,” according to the letter, which is signed by Zoilita Herrera, the regional superintendent of the Catholic School Region of Staten Island, and Deacon James Cowan, chairman of the Catholic School Region of Staten Island.
Nicole Garelick-Fresca, the principal of St. Rita School, will serve as the principal of the new academy, while Rita Azzopardi, the principal of St. Teresa School, will be the assistant principal.
In addition to the new STREAM initiative, the academy will offer a National Junior Honor Society, a seamless online learning environment in partnership with St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School, and robotics, according to the archdiocese.
Decisions about the school’s faculty will be made after speaking with the teachers of both schools in the next few days, according to the archdiocese.
There will be a meeting for St. Rita parents at the school on Tuesday at 7 p.m., while St. Teresa parents can attend a meeting in the church Thursday at 7 p.m.
Additional information about the academy can be found here.
Meanwhile, the Father Vincent Capodanno Catholic Academy, named after the Staten Island priest who died while administering last rites to a dying soldier during the Vietnam War, “will allow both the St. Adalbert and the Holy Rosary school communities to enhance existing programs and increase community partnerships … [and explore] the possibility of creating educational opportunities beyond elementary school, which will welcome traditional learners as well as those with varying learning styles,” according to the archdiocese.
Diane Hesterhagen, principal of St. Adalbert School, will serve as principal of the new academy. Elizabeth Campbell, principal of Holy Rosary School, will be the assistant principal and early childhood director.
The new academy will feature a National Junior Honor Society; an Italian Immersion Program with language and culture components; a Kiwanis Builders Club, featuring community service activities; a Young Ambassador Club; and Trout in the Classroom, which helps students understand ecosystems and stewardship of all God’s creatures, according to the archdiocese.
Decisions about the faculty at Father Vincent Capodanno Catholic Academy also will be made after speaking with the teachers of the current schools in the next few days, the archdiocese said.
More information about the new academy can be found here.
There are currently no plans for any changes to the St. Adalbert and St. Rita parishes, according to an Archdiocese spokesman. “We are focused on the families and the children at this time,” a second Archdiocese spokesman said in response to a question concerning the fate of the school buildings at the aforementioned campuses.
Monday’s announcement is the latest in a list of Staten Island Catholic school mergers or closings since 2011.
While St. Teresa and St. Rita schools are separated by approximately one mile, St. Adalbert and Holy Rosary are nearly seven miles apart.
The archdiocese said that the new academies will be able to accommodate all students with additional room for growth.
“Our top priority is to work closely with each family, to help in any way that we can during this transition,” said Michael Deegan, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of New York. “Our directors of enrollment will work with every single family to make sure there is a seamless transition to the new building for the 2020-2021 school year. They will take great care to provide each family with information and answer any questions they may have, whether they are about transportation or tuition.”
We understand how important these cherished schools are to our communities, and we do everything we can to ensure our schools have a strong future,” he added. “These new academies will offer a cohesive, united community with academically rich programs within a strong faith-based, values-infused curriculum.”