NCCS off to a strong start
On Tuesday, Northern Chautauqua Catholic School welcomed 96 students through its doors for the new school year. For Principal Jenny Tilaro, there is even more to celebrate this year, as the school surpassed its summer fundraising goal and is now able to introduce a new program to further its mission of offering a high-quality Catholic education with a challenging curriculum.
The first day of school began with a liturgy service in the gym, where Dr. Michael LaFever, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, joined students and their families for their first day. “He’s been such a big help to our school,” Tilaro said. “He has great plans to increase our enrollment and make sure that we’re here for a long time. I can’t share much more than that at this point, but we’re very excited.”
Tilaro is pleased to report that enrollment has remained steady. “After last year, we had several families leave us because their students are now in high school. But we had many families enroll their children for the first time to make up for it,” she explained. The school, which includes students from pre-K through grade eight, has one of the largest kindergarten classes in many years, with 20 students.
Although NCCS was in danger of closing after last school year, recent fundraising efforts have shown that there is a lot of community and family support for the school. The fundraising goal of $100,000 was met in less than two months, and now Tilaro says the school has raised $120,000 to date. “We’ve definitely surpassed our goal! Thanks to our generous donors, we are not only able to stay open, but it’s also helped with our new STREAM initiative, which allows us to offer more to our wonderful students.” Tilaro said that donations are still trickling in and are continuing to be accepted throughout the school year. Donations are key to the school’s ability to operate, especially since rising legal costs of the Diocese of Buffalo have limited the amount of money that can be channeled to Catholic schools.
STREAM is a take on the educational approach STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math), with the addition of religion, to foster a more hands-on approach to learning. “Our STREAM academy will get students more involved with hands-on learning like working with bubbles, robotics and art projects as well. I’m very happy to introduce it this year,” said Tilaro.
Enrollment is on a rolling basis, so new students are welcome to join NCCS at any point during the school year. Recently, NCCS hired multiple new teachers who began teaching on Tuesday. New faculty include music teacher Hannah Bena, gym teacher Vince Fogarty, first grade teacher Alyzia Glasier, ELA/composition teacher Lesley Hazen, math teacher Karen Nalepa, fourth grade teacher Candace Sullivan and third grade teacher Linda Valone. Tilaro explained that interim instructors are teaching science and Spanish, and the school is looking to fill those positions as soon as possible.
Although it is only Tilaro’s second year as NCCS principal, the school already appears to be thriving under her leadership. “We had a great first day, and I’m excited about the year ahead,” Tilaro announced.