The Diocese of Rockville Center plans a bilingual school on 2 campuses

Amid recent Catholic school closures, the Diocese of Rockville Center plans to offer a new school on two campuses for bilingual immersion and is seeking, in part, to attract Hispanic families.

The diocese said it would form kindergarten through eighth grade, combining two facilities that had served as schools in Deer Park and Central Islip – and overseen by the Marianist Brothers, who run respected schools such as Chaminade High School .

The new Our Lady of Guadalupe School will include extended hours to help focus on math and reading skills, extensive after-school programs and a bilingual curriculum in which students are expected to be proficient in both English and Spanish, said Sean Dolan, a spokesperson. for the diocese.

The diocese also announced it is upgrading a school in Valley Stream that will accept students from three schools that will close in June in East Rockaway, West Hempstead and Baldwin.

The moves come after the decision to close seven high schools last year sparked protests from parents.

“As a diocese, we have recognized the need to strengthen our offerings for a growing population of Hispanic Catholic families in Suffolk County, particularly in the Central Islip, Brentwood and Deer Park areas,” Bishop John Barres said in a statement. a statement.

“We also recognize the unique value that a diverse learning environment provides to all of our families and we are excited to bring our communities together,” he said.

The dual-campus school is named after the patron saint of Mexico. This will be Ss. Cyril and Methodius School Building in Deer Park, which will become known as Our Lady of Guadalupe West. The other school, Our Lady of Providence Regional School in Central Islip, will become Our Lady of Guadalupe East.

West Campus will eventually be a middle school for grades five through eight for students from both regions. The east campus will serve as an elementary school for kindergarten through fourth grade students from both regions. Each campus will maintain nursery and pre-kindergarten programs in the future.

The college will come into effect in September, with the transfer of Central Islip School students from grades five through eight. In the fall of 2022, after some renovations, the east campus will be entirely K-4, with students in this age group transferring from Deer Park School.

“Our goal is to expand both campuses of Our Lady of Guadalupe to fully utilize building capacity,” said Denise Smith, acting superintendent of education for the diocese.

Dolan said the new school “will provide an exciting new opportunity for English- and Spanish-speaking families, who will benefit from a dynamic learning environment that enhances critical thinking skills and strengthens students’ social and emotional well-being.”

Hispanics make up a growing portion of Long Island’s Catholic population, with some estimates accounting for at least 30% of Catholics.

In bilingual programs, the school day is typically divided between English and Spanish instruction, mixing students from both backgrounds with the goal of becoming bilingual by the time they graduate. The program will begin at the kindergarten level.

Dolan said the new dual-campus model was spurred in part by declining enrollment and financial pressures at both schools.. The school will have a new direction, a new governance and will serve as a “pilot for a new approach to Catholic primary education”.

The diocese said it is also preparing to increase oversight, strategic planning, and academic and operational support at Holy Name of Mary School in Valley Stream, which will accept students from St. Raymond Catholic School in East Rockaway, St. Thomas the Apostle School in West Hempstead and St. Christopher’s in Baldwin. These three schools will close in June.

The church will institute “a new model of governance” in the Holy Name of Mary “to achieve bold spiritual, moral, cultural and academic growth as it develops where many students from the two closing schools are expected to enroll,” Dolan said.

The school will receive support from the parish, the diocese and the Morning Star Initiative, an effort led by the Marianist Brothers to revitalize Catholic high schools on Long Island.

Sylvester L. Goldfarb