NEWARK — St. Michael’s School in Newark marked its 50th year Nov. 19 with a balloon launch and a proclamation by a local politician.
By 2 p.m., a handful of parents and relatives had gathered near the playground outside the school. A few minutes later, students filed out of the building grade by grade, each child holding a bright blue or gold balloon. Once all the students were assembled, Shannon Heller, principal, called them to attention.
“We have a special day today. We’re celebrating our 50th year at St. Michael’s,” Heller announced. After encouraging the students to be proud of their school, she introduced Arcadia Town Supervisor Joseph DiSanto, who said he had sent his own daughters to St. Michael’s because of the importance the school placed on education.
DiSanto read a proclamation honoring the school for 50 years of Catholic education in the community and presented Heller with a plaque.
Then, on the count of three, the students shouted “Happy 50th, St. Mike’s,” and released their balloons, clapping excitedly as the blue and gold dots hovered over the school for a moment before being borne away on the breeze.
Jeanine Fitch said she came to the ceremony to watch her son, A.J., who is in first grade. She decided to enroll A.J. in St. Michael’s because her husband had gone there as a child and because of the school’s excellent reputation.
“We really wanted the Catholic education,” Fitch said. “It’s really wonderful here. There’s just a sense of family here.”
Seventh-grader Maura Chappell also said the school community felt like a family.
“It’s more like a family because you’ve gone here so long. It’s easier to get along with people,” Maura said.
First-graders Andrew Schuyler and Nathan Statt said they enjoy going to St. Michael’s.
“We really like it. We learn a lot,” Andrew said.
Andrew and Nathan both agreed that they like math class the most, and that St. Michael’s has a better playground than other schools.
Although Nathan had originally been nervous about letting his balloon go at the wrong time and Andrew thought his balloon got stuck in a tree, both boys said they enjoyed the balloon launch and were proud of their school.
Although Heller has only been principal at St. Michael’s for a few months, she said she’s already noticed the genuine kindness that the students show to others.
“The students and faculty of St. Mike’s truly live and model for others our Catholic values,” she said. “St. Michael’s has a standard for excellence that is pursued by both our students and faculty.”
The school has planned several other anniversary activities, including a 1950s-themed family dinner dance in March and an alumni basketball game in April.