Exciting things are happening at Our Lady Queen of Apostles, the Catholic School in Center Moriches, said principal Father John Sureau.
In a continued effort to remain competitive with area public schools and increase enrollment, Our Lady Queen of Apostles launched a series of new classes and programs over the last two years, and Sureau reports that thus far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive from staff and students.
From a new music program that includes band and chorus classes, to a hands-on STEM- like class, the student body at OLQA are getting opportunities never seen before
“A school must always be creating and recreating,” noted Sureau, “and I hope that we are doing that well.”
One of the classes introduced is STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics.) Held every Friday during Period 9, classes participate in a hands-on activity meant to encourage critical thinking and creativity.
Sureau said STREAM is one of the more popular classes because it allows students to think outside of the box.
“The fact that the whole building stops to work on this [STREAM] shows how important these skills and experiences are to our young people and to the school as a whole,” he added.
BAND AND MUSICALS
An in-school band program has also been added, thanks to a collaborative partnership with Jimmy Osborne Music of Center Moriches. Previously, the OLQA school band practiced after school only one day a week, but now, students receive individual lessons during school hours. Ninth period affords the band the chance to practice collectively. Students who do not wish to participate in band are able to join chorus.
“I can’t tell you that every eighth-grade boy is happy about this change,” quipped Sureau, “but by mandating participation, it forces many students outside of their comfort zone.”
One result of the music program was the school holding its first musical in 2019, “Seussical, Jr.” The school is currently gearing up for its upcoming production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
YOUNG APOSTLE’S PROGRAM
Besides the academic and cultural classes and programs now being offered at OLQA, a new mentoring program has also been added, called the Young Apostle’s Program. Students in eighth grade are tasked with serving as a mentor to students in the early childhood programs and intermediate grades, at the request of a classroom teacher.
“It’s similar to a Big Buddy program, and I think it’s been a good experience for all students involved,” he explained.
Math teacher Gina Depaola coordinates OLQA’s Project REACH (Research, Education, Academics, Catholicism & Hope), launched in the 2018-19 school year. Then in seventh grade, the now eighth graders have had to conduct an in-depth research project that will have to be completed upon graduation. Depaola said students were able to select their own topic. She said some topics have included adolescent depression and meteorology.
Once chosen, Sureau and teachers found real-life mentors who work in the related fields. Some mentors are from the local community, while others are from out of state, but either way, are in regular communication with students, in-person or by email, guiding them through the research process. The students will officially present their research project at an academic symposium this spring.
“The goal of the project is to teach students how to research and organize their findings and how to follow an idea from the beginning to the end,” explained Depaola. “This program helps students get ready for high school and learn how to take a large task and break it down into manageable pieces.”
CAMPUS MINISTRY COLLABORATIVE
The last of the new initiatives is the Campus Ministry Collaborative, a program that allows students to work with volunteer organizations, such as Helping Makes U Happy, St. John’s Street Ministry and Bridge for Peace. The intention of the Campus Ministry Collaborative is to remind young people of the need to serve, as well as open their minds to what is happening in our local community, Sureau said.
He also said that student enrollment has been consistent over the last few years, and based on attendance at recent open houses, is hopeful that the additions to the curriculum are proving successful. The next open house is scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, 5:30-7 p.m., at the school, located at St. John’s Place in Center Moriches.
“I am happy with where we are at OLQA. It’s a strong school that offers students an incredible amount in many areas,” he added. “The family of families here creates a community that provides safety, security, challenge and compassion for our young people so they may go forth from there to do the same for others.”