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School History

 

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 Original School

The history of the Parish of St. Agnes Cathedral reflects its faithfulness to the teaching mission of the Church. In the gospel, we read of Jesus’ command to His disciples: "Let the little children come . . . . . "

Msgr. QuealyIt has been one hundred years since the first children crossed the threshold of St. Agnes Elementary School, which was opened in 1917. Built by Monsignor Peter Quealy (in the area of the Cathedral parish rectory), it was staffed by five Dominican Sisters. Mother Petra, the first principal, served as Administrator until her death in 1939. The ten-classroom school was compact with each room having an entrance from the outside and interior access to an auditorium.


By the 1950’s the demand for Catholic elementary educationMsgr. Williams in Rockville Centre, far exceeded the capacity of the ten-classroom school. In 1957, Monsignor Williams purchased the Clinton Avenue School from the Rockville Centre Public School District. Constructed in 1896, this building underwent extensive renovations, and with the addition of the north and south wings in the 1960’s totaled 32 classrooms. In 1957, after the establishment of the Rockville Centre Diocese, the school officially became known as St. Agnes Cathedral Elementary School. At its height, 1600 students were in attendance, a far cry from the 60 students who entered the school in its infancy.

St. Agnes Teachers

The dedication and commitment of over one hundred Amityville Dominicans, and the leadership of Mother Petra and her successors, Sr. Agnes Clare, Sr. Maureen, Sr. Clare Therese, Sr. Jane Doherty, Sr. Patricia Pich and Sr. Kathleen Carlin enabled thousands of children to experience the richness of a Catholic Education.  

St. agnes Dominican Principals

The Post Vatican II years radically changed the institution of Catholic Education. With the exodus of sisters from religious communities, and the expanse of Church ministries, fewer sisters were available to teach. Tuition once non-existent, or at least minimal, steadily rose, resulting in declining enrollment. Dedicated and qualified lay teachers replaced the sisters in the classroom.

The highlighted role of the laity in the Church and Education resulted in the establishment of the School Board, the Home School Association (renamed in 2017-2018: the Parent School Association) and the Fathers’ Club. The Mothers’ Club, organized in 1937, continued to be a vital part of the life of the school.

Msgr. MeltonThe years of the seventies presented many challenges. Under the guidance and leadership of Monsignor Melton, and with the support of the parish and school organizations, St. Agnes Cathedral School continued to grow. The Kindergarten program was begun in 1979 and four classrooms were constructed. New programs were introduced; foreign language, guidance, special education, academically advanced, library and computer education. In addition to students from St. Agnes Parish, children from fifteen neighboring parishes attended the school. Historical roots were thus re-established, as the original Quealy School served children from similar areas.

Msgr. MulliganIn 1987 Monsignor Robert Mulligan became the Rector of the Parish of St. Agnes Cathedral. For the next ten years the school continued to excel. In 1989-1990, St. Agnes Cathedral School was Recognized as a "School of Excellence" by New York State and the United States Department of Education. After an in-depth self-study and the formation of a long range Action Plan, the school was accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Three new rooms were added and the main office was renovated. In 1993, several thousand alumni, parents, teachers both past and present attended a spirited and exciting 75th Anniversary celebration. An Education Fund was started to provide for the long-term financial viability of the school.


 Msgr. KellyIn 1997, Monsignor James P. Kelly was appointed Rector. For the next ten years enrollment and programs continued to expand. The small gymnasium was renovated in the summer of 2001 to provide four new classrooms. Full-day kindergarten was introduced in September 2002 and a portable classroom was installed in the schoolyard to accommodate additional instructional programs.



Middle States re-accreditation was awarded in 2003 and 2013.  The related Action Plans resulted in extra-curricular programs for 6th, 7th and 8th grades and included basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, and volleyball teams, in addition to cheerleading squads. The Drama program and the school newspapers were expanded. Many educational challenges were also introduced.  New York State mandates for higher standards, new curricula and challenging assessments impacted the learning of all students.  The development of technology became a primary educational goal.  The library was computerized and the school was networked with each classroom having Internet access.

In 2005, the Diocese of Rockville Centre agreed to lease the property adjacent to the north wing to the parish.  Through the financial generosity of the Mothers’ and Fathers’ Clubs a field and garden area were constructed to provide additional space for outdoor physical education activities and hands-on science experiences.  Thus a "Field of Dreams" became a reality for the Cathedral School.

Msgr. Gugliemone
After Monsignor Kelly's retirement in 2007, Monsignor Robert Guglielmone was appointed Rector.  The school benefitted from his support and guidance for eighteen months and rejoiced when he was appointed Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina.


Msgr. Koenig
In June, 2009, Bishop Murphy appointed Monsignor William Koenig as rector of the Cathedral Parish. The Cathedral School, under his leadership and that of Co-Principals Kathleen V. Carlin O.P. and Miss Helen Newman, continued to be a vibrant community committed to instilling the teaching of the Catholic faith and challenging its students to achieve academic excellence.



S Kathy and Miss Newman
After a combined seventy-two years as administrators of St. Agnes Cathedral School, Sister Kathy Carlin, O.P. and Miss Helen Newman announced their retirement to be effective in August of 2016.  A festive celebration was held in their honor resulting in the two wings of the school being renamed Carlin and Newman Halls. 



Cecilia St. JohnBrian JensenA search committee, headed by Msgr. Koenig, interviewed many applicants for their replacement. Based upon the committee's recommendation, Mrs. Cecilia St. John and Mr. Brian Jensen were hired respectively as the Principal and Assistant Principal, thus re-introducing the administrative model that existed prior to 1999.  

Centennial Walkway

The year 2017 - 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of St. Agnes Cathedral Elementary School.  To memorialize this milestone a Centennial Prayer Walk and grotto was constructed in the garden section of the "Field of Dreams."  Inscribed bricks lead up to and surround a beautiful statue of our Blessed Mother.  This prayerful addition to the campus was blessed and dedicated by Msgr. Koenig on December 7, 2017.

Today, St. Agnes Cathedral School, the largest K-8 parish school in the Dioceses of Rockville Centre, continues its 100 year mission of educating God's Greatest Gift, Our Children!

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