Graduating students from All Saints Academy made their way down the aisle of St. Henry’s Church on June 10 with one more memory that future graduates will not have – having Sister Eileen Jude Wust as principal.
Sister Eileen, who has been the principal for the school since it was founded in 2008, is moving on to do social work, something she said she’s always aspired to do.
In her introduction to the ceremonies, Wust told the students that they have the distinction of being the school’s first “sixth grade” class, and therefore a place in the new school’s history.
All Saints Catholic Academy, located at West 13th Street, is the result of an effort to consolidate the four parochial schools in Bayonne to provide a Catholic education that is more economically sound.
Wust was named principal prior to a decision by the Archdiocese of Newark to combine four under-attended elementary schools into one strong school, and she was charged along with the board in helping to establish many of the programs and practices of the school.
For Wust, this posed a remarkable challenge for the students and parents, who somehow had to come together and recognize themselves as part of a new institution.
Even though she was happy at the opportunity to pursue her dream in social work, there was a slight note of sadness in her voice as she spoke at what will likely be her last graduation.
This was only the third graduating class of Bayonne’s only Catholic elementary school. But Wust said the people in the church for the ceremony represented a long tradition in the Bayonne Catholic community,
She said the class has set the standard for future classes. She said each one of the students, parents, teachers, and administrators played a key role in the success of the first year by having a positive attitude, as well as active support.
“By offering a positive attitude, encouraging words and active support,” Wust said, “you graduates brought a deep energy with you to meet the challenges of change head-on. You grew wisdom and grew to become the eighth grade leaders the school needed.”
Those students who became the first graduating class, she said, brought to the school from the very first day an enthusiasm and energy that helped meet the challenges of the change head-on.
“A year that began with uncertainty,” she told the graduates during the ceremony, “has ended with a well-rounded spirit, a community, and new friendships. We are all for one. We are most assuredly one as we stand together.”
Rev. Monsignor Paul Schetelick, head of the board for the school, said this year’s eighth graders earned more than a half million dollars in scholarships to help pave the way for continuing their Catholic education in high schools around the area.
Schetelick said that besides the faculty, the school has an advisory board that looks into how to make the school stronger.
Councilwoman Agnes Gillespie, who was keynote speaker, said she felt at home with this graduating class, since she graduated from the same building this class graduates from, and was an eighth grade teacher for a good portion of her career.
“We have tried to teach you the satisfaction that comes when you apply your mind to a worthy cause,” she told the students. “Therefore you hopefully will approach each new endeavor with excitement and an open mind.”
Class Speaker Shannon Kelley said it was a little frightening to think that they will no longer be elementary students next year.
“Many things changed over the last few years, our grammar schools closed and we have to get used to a new environment,” she said. This meant a change of school, change of teachers and change of friends. “But now it seems we’ve been together much longer than three years.”
She said she started to look forward to coming to school.
“Everyday was an adventure,” she said. “High school is going to be a different challenge. We all know this and we’re already moving forward. There will be new teachers, new classmates and new buildings. Coming to All Saints has taught us how to adapt to all these things.”