Staff and students of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School received a jolt of energy Aug. 8 for the start of the 2018-2019 school year in Shrub Oak.
“I feel like I’m coming into a new school. I really do,” Berthaliz Delgado, a teacher for 20 years at the school that opens Sept. 5, told CNY.
Mrs. Delgado, who teaches second grade, is referring to the modernization of the school during the summer. The update includes new desks, Google Chromebooks, bright colors painted on the walls, LED lighting, dry-erase whiteboards and 73-inch touch-screen televisions in each classroom with Wi-Fi.
“I think it’s a lot more colorful. It makes me happier,” said Taylor Vitrone, an incoming fourth-grader and parishioner of St. Denis in Hopewell Junction.
Students and their parents were given a tour of the school by rising eighth-graders, some dressed in their new navy-blue school uniform polo shirts.
“I knew it was going to be beautiful. It’s not always easy coming to school. This classroom will wake you up because it’s so pretty,” said Paula Fonseca, one of the eighth-graders who gave tours to families and a parishioner of Assumption in Peekskill.
After the tour, everyone was treated to an outdoor barbecue behind the school. The menu included hot dogs, hamburgers, dessert and bottled water. There was face painting and small bottles of bubble-blowing solution for students to blow bubbles to their liking.
Principal Brian Donahue greeted students and their families, gave tours and barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers. He was thrilled with the turnout and positive feedback and announced a dedication and ribbon-cutting will be held Sept. 7 following 9 a.m. Mass to name a wing of the school the Sister Gabriel Miriam Obraz, S.C., Early Childhood Center. It will house pre-k through second grade and honors its namesake who was principal for 43 years and a teacher for eight years at the school before retiring in 2017.
“Sister Gabriel did a great job with the curriculum and Catholic identity of the school. So to me, the real focus was the upgrading of the technology and the building itself,” Donahue said. “I think the first thing, it’s going to make (students) excited to come to school. To me, that was always the first challenge—getting kids to want to wake up and come to school. If they’re excited about learning, learning becomes easier.
“I think adding the influx of technology along with our current solid curriculum is going to make a difference.”
Donahue said the money was raised through the school, parish, the archdiocese’s Renew & Rebuild campaign for the parish, and private donations.
“It’s a great day,” said Father Robert Quarato, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. “It gives us an opportunity to build on some great foundations here and take things to the next level. It shows our school is developing with the needs of the times but also still holding on to the traditions that have made us so valuable.”
Ann Marie Dillon toured the building with her husband Paul and sons Jason, 9, and Drew, 5. She was returning later in the day with her 11-year-old son, Paul.
“I’m so proud and so happy our kids get to experience this. I really feel it will make a difference in their education, growth and development,” said Mrs. Dillon, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Home School Association, which helped raised funds for the project.
Jason was enjoying his time at school with family and friends. “I feel the colors are brighter and happier,” he said. “I have lots of good friends and the education is good.”