Sun Shines as St. Edward Catholic Prepatory Academy Opens Its Doors
New School Launches with Fresh Paint, New Equipment, Masks and Social Distance
By Margarita Mendoza, El Observador Editor
September 17, 2020
ELGIN—Students, teachers and parents from St. Edward Catholic Preparatory Academy in Elgin have two powerful reasons to be excited. 
First of all, they are part of a brand new concept of school in the Diocese of Rockford — the fusion of a preparatory elementary with a high school, and second, they are finally going to receive instruction in person after months of online classes and living their summer vacations in a time of quarantine. 
Certainly, all those gathered in the parking lot of the academy on Sept. 15 for the 7:45 a.m. welcome from principal Dr. Kathleen Miller would remember this historic day in the diocese as a sunny one with pleasant weather, a colorful welcome, exciting greetings of old and new friends, and a building with everything looking new despite wearing masks and keeping social distance. 
“This is just a wonderful example of what happens when people of the Catholic community come together with a vision and work toward creating this wonderful new relationship between this elementary school and St. Edward (Central Catholic) High School,” said Mike Kagan, superintendent of schools in the Diocese of Rockford. 
“This hasn’t been done before in our diocese and there are a lot of exciting possibilities through these connections. What the children are going to get here will prepare them so they can go to St. Edward (Central Catholic) High School,” he said.
“I’m looking forward for the new school year to receive a better education,” said Adriel Alonso, a seventh grader from the former St. Joseph Parish School.
St. Joseph and St. Laurence schools at their Elgin parishes both closed due to low enrollments and financial strain. 
To serve those parish communities with a new vision for Catholic education, St. Edward Catholic Preparatory Academy was created to connect and educate students through shared academics and activities, with the goal of allowing them to seamlessly continue their Catholic education at St. Edward Central Catholic High School. 
Besides sharing the name, the new academy will share colors of green and gold, as well as their mascot, the Green Wave. The academy mascot will be the Jr. Green Wave.
The academy has been equipped with new technology, smart boards, computers and chrome books to aid the learning process of the students both in the building and at home. 
This technology also allows teachers and students to be fully prepared in case instruction should shift from in-person to e-learning because of an escalation in the pandemic or bad weather.
The building, located on the campus of St. Joseph Parish, was renovated with new paint, carpet, and restrooms not just for the new academy opening, but also as a result of a summer storm that knocked out electricity and phone service. 
The school opening was delayed a week due to the storm and to staff members testing positive for the coronavirus. 
After all the struggles, “It was all worth it. It has been a fantastic day. God is with us, the sky is blue, the children are happy to be back in school, so we are very thankful that we have this opportunity,” said Dr. Miller.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the community, said Vito DeFrisco, assistant superintendent for the diocese.
“We have a very good student teacher ratio, that’s a very positive move, and we have a number of different cultures that is another positive and enriching academy environment,” he added.
Enrollment is about 80 students.
The parents can expect that their children are going to “feel comfortable, in a place where they feel safe and they are learning about Jesus Christ on a daily basis,” Dr. Miller said. 
She added she is thankful for “having Msgr. Arquimedes Vallejo here in charge of the whole religious aspect along with Sister Luz.”
Sister Luz María Mondragón, HMRF, serves at St. Joseph Parish.
The new school is a “great place to grow in the faith that started with the parents. It is an opening of blessings for our parish and community because here we are forming the new members of the society, political, social; there is hope and joy for all. Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, an event of joy and glory in our school year,” Msgr. Vallejo said.
The new preparatory academy is part of the Faith Forward Strategic Plan to strengthen 
all Catholic schools in the Rockford  Diocese, according to Kagan. 
Part of that plan included financial, instructional and communication goals for all schools. The plan was meant to find ways to maintain strong Catholic education and help struggling schools and parishes.
“We consolidated four schools and seven parishes in Aurora to create one new and stronger Catholic school there with Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy,” Kagan said. “And last year in Rockford four schools and eight parishes came together to form All Saints Catholic Academy. 
“While it was necessary to do these things, it is also an opportunity for Catholics to collaborate and bring together new people, teachers, students, and new ideas,” Kagan said. 
He thanked Dr. Miller “for her leadership and everybody that is part of the planning committee from the various parishes that help put together this vision.” 
A more formal, public opening of the new academy will be announced at a later date.


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