Principal Rose Forte said in Brookfield began the academic year with a slightly revised pre-school program, Spanish instruction in all grades and a continuation of last year’s initiative to have the students attend mass once a week at the adjacent St. Joseph Church.
Through fundraising, the school, which opened in 1958, added space last year to accommodate its pre-school and kindergarten programs.
Forte, who just began her sixth year as principal, said the pre-school, which had a part-time program for three-year-olds and a full-time program for four-year-olds last year, now, due to enrollment demands, has just the full-time offering for the four-year-olds.
She said it is a “valuable” program, since the students get acclimated to a school setting and, in addition to receiving instruction in the core subjects, are taught physical education, music and computer technology.
Forte said since the four-year-olds don’t get on a bus, their school day starts at 8:45 a.m., 15 minutes after the other grades, and they are dismissed at 3:10 p.m.
The principal said parent Monica Harron, a Brookfield resident who was an aide in the pre-school program last year, is now teaching Spanish to each class from pre-school through eighth grade. Previously, only the upper grades had Spanish classes.
Forte, who lives in Seymour, said, as is the case at many parochial schools, “parent support is crucial.”
She said the Home School Association raises money for a variety of programs and several parents coach teams or serve as advisors to after-school activities.
Forte said based on the success from the last academic year the students are again attending mass each Friday morning at St. Joseph Church.
She said over the recent years the school’s academic scores have been high enough for it to be considered as a nominee for Blue Ribbon status from a national organization, but it didn’t meet the criteria because of low enrollments in some of the upper grades.
Forte said it meets the criteria this year and she hopes it will get consideration for a nomination for the prestigious honor.
She said many of the school’s graduates go on to attend Immaculate High School in Danbury, Brookfield High School and Canterbury, a prep school in New Milford.
“Many of our students have gone on to do very well in high school,” Forte said.
She said that St. Joseph began the academic year with almost 200 students.
“We’ve been inching up and holding steady,” she said, compared with recent enrollments.