The idea of starting St. Agnes School in Clark, NJ
started in August of 1962. Rev. Dennis J. Whelan, Pastor of the Parish
respectfully submitted a petition for the Sisters of the Third Order of
St. Dominic of the Congregation of Sacred Heart in Caldwell, NJ to
conduct a parish elementary school. Permission was granted and on August
15, 1963 the Dominican Sisters arrived.
Temporary residence for St. Agnes School
was set up at Union Catholic Regional High School in Scotch Plains in
September of 1963, with a total enrollment of 157 students in grades 1
through 4. Four classrooms were set aside and bus transportation was
provided. The school colors were chosen. Red (maroon) for martyrdom of
St. Agnes and White for purity.
Exactly one year later on Sept. 9, 1964,
our brand new school building was opened at 342 Madison Hill Road in
Clark, NJ. The excitement was building as 224 students were enrolled and
a fifth grade was added. The schoolbook fees were $15.00 per pupil and
bus transportation was paid for by the parents. Thursday was always a
special day when a group of moms from the parish and school came to cook
hot dogs for the children, adding a special treat to lunchtime. The
following year, the first full cafeteria was in operation with hot
meals, salads, sandwiches, desserts and milk. There was no cash
register; the money was collected and sorted in bowls at the end of a
Things were moving along nicely by 1965.
The first school newspaper was originated; Boy Scout and Girl Scout
troops were formed. Fifty boys joined Troop #86 and began fundraising to
sponsor camping trips, field trips and a trip to Washington D.C.
Woodcarvings of the patron saints with
their names imprinted were in front of each classroom. A wall statue of
a boy and girl was mounted in the front hall. The two models were Joan
Jaworski and Robert Suszko, students who were in the first graduating
class of 1968. The statue is still there today.
Grades 6, 7 and 8 were all added in 1967,
and in June of 1968, we graduated the original 4th grade class from
1963. Frank Gelormini, a parent of one of the 7th grade boys, founded
the Basketball Team this year. In order to purchase basketballs for the
team, Mr. Gelormini collected S & H Green Stamps. The boys supplied
their own uniforms and the cheerleaders made theirs. Since there was no
gym, permission from the Township of Clark was obtained to use Valley
Road School gym for practice and games. The trophies were donated by the
coach from 1969 until 1972 and were always presented at the 8th grade
communion breakfast. In later years, the Sports Committee was founded
and continued this tradition.
In 1972, the convent at 43 Amelia Drive
in Clark was sold as a residence and the Sisters went to live at the
convent for St. John The Apostle, in Linden. We had 365 students and the
tuition was $35.00 for the first child and $10.00 for the second. The
average class size was maximum 36 and minimum 20.
Father Miller, one of the Parish Priests,
felt the children of St. Agnes were at a disadvantage when it came to
competitive sports, so in 1973, with a $125.00 of appropriated funds,
the Sport Committee was founded with the motto “DO YOUR BEST.” The
all-purpose room became the gym, with the floor marked for a basketball
court and fold-up basketball hoops on the ceiling. In 1977, the entire
Municipal Council of the Township of Clark adopted Resolution No. 77-69
to honor St. Agnes CYO Basketball Team for outstanding accomplishments
and the Girls Softball Team was formed that same year. The cheerleaders
were born and achieved second place in cheering and Miss Yell
Competition’s. The track team brought in many gold, silver and bronze
medals. Mr. Joe Santos became the coach of basketball and stayed coach
for 25 years. In 1999, the Sports Committee named the Joseph Santos
Sports Scholarship in his honor.
In 1980 school uniforms were maroon,
white and gray. The school “Year Book” began and the school received
excellent evaluations by the Archdiocesan Office Evaluation Team.
In 1982, Implementation of the
recommendations from the Evaluation Team was started.
A new office, using wasted space in
the hallway was constructed.
A separate nurse’s room was created.
A library was planned and completed
some years later.
Monthly newsletter and calendars were
Algebra programs for qualified 8th
grade students were put into operation.
The use of computers was stressed in
varying degrees for both classroom and offices.
Teaching specialty topics were put in
Book fees at this time were $30 per child
and tuition was $400 first and $700 for second child. If you
choose not to work Bingo, tuition was $700 first and $1,300 for second
The Kindergarten class started with 15
children in 1991, and in 1995 our beloved Sister Claire Ouimet M.P.F. of
the Religious Teachers Filippini, became our Principal. Sister Claire
has brought our school into the new millennium with a very strong
academic program and up-to-date technology to integrate computing skills
into its core curriculum.
St. Agnes started with 4 rented
classrooms and has grown. We have grades Pre-K3 through 8th grade and a before and after
school care program. The
faculty is experienced, certified, and fully accredited. The students
who have graduated from St. Agnes School have become exceptional people
in our society. The formative years learning at St. Agnes School truly
makes it-----“A WONDERFUL PLACE TO BE.”
In 2002 St. Agnes Students kicked off
their 40th Anniversary with a student and faculty celebration. The
festivities began with a special children’s Mass celebrated by Rev.
Msgr. James Choma. The day concluded with the singing of “Happy Anniversary” and a cake
cutting ceremony led by Monsignor Choma, Pastor, Sister Claire Ouimet, and Mrs. Helen Shaffer, First Grade Teacher. All
of the students enjoyed cake and they were presented with a 40th
Anniversary commemorative yo-yo as a special token of a truly memorable
St. Agnes observed its 40th anniversary
on Saturday, November 29th beginning with a special 5:30 PM Mass.
Alumni, neighbors, parishioners and special guests enjoyed a cocktail
reception and a “Walk Down Memory Lane” following the Mass in the
In 2006, the office was moved when the new addition was added. This section includes our library/media center and middle school. This part of our building is completely air conditioned. The middle school also has lockers.
After Sister Claire Ouimet retired at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, Mrs. Heather Schnaars became our principal. Mrs. Schnaars has continued the tradition of educating not only the mind, but the heart and spirit as well. We now have interactive white boards in every classroom. Our students are working harder then ever to reach out to our surrounding community with activites such as our annual Veterans' Day Ceremony and raising money for Breast Cancer Research. From Pre-K through 8th grade we have a prayer buddy program which links our older and younger students together.
In November 2011, our brand new community center was completed. This houses our new gymnasium where our very diversified multi-active sports program is held. Our kitchen and auditorium were also completely renovated at this time. The auditorium was named in honor of Sister Claire Ouimet. The students enjoy our new kitchen with our 5 day lunch program and put on numerous performances on stage.
ST. AGNES SCHOOL BROCHURE