HAMDEN – St. Rita School and St. Stephen School will be one school when the next academic year opens
Father Thomas W. Hickey, pastor of St. Stephen Parish, announced the decision Monday at a meeting with school employees, board members and parents of children at St. Stephen School. Both parish-owned schools also notified their communities by electronic communications on Monday.
Father Hickey and Father Philip J. Sharkey, pastor of St. Rita Parish, said the combined school will educate pre-K through grade eight students at the St. Rita building, which is the larger of the two school structures. Currently, 317 children are enrolled at St. Rita and 150 attend St. Stephen, which is about a mile away..
“After careful reflection,” said Father Hickey, “we have determined that it is best for St. Stephen School to integrate its students into St. Rita School. This was a difficult decision, but one that was made with the long-term interest of the students at heart. Both schools are vibrant communities with rich traditions of quality Catholic education. However, we have been looking at growth and viability projections ten years into the future, and decided that it was better to combine the schools now, while we both are strong and healthy financially.”
Father Hickey emphasized that neither school is failing. He said the St. Rita location was chosen because it can accommodate both school populations and still have the room grow with additional students.
Father Sharkey said, “We hope to make the transition from one school building to another as smooth as possible for our students, and are committed to preserving the traditions, culture, and best practices of each school in order to make students as comfortable as possible.”
St. Stephen School will provide tuition assistance of $500 for each of its students who enroll at St. Rita.
Patricia Tiezzi, principal of St. Rita School, will continue in this role at the combined school. St. Stephen School principal Maria Testa will join the St. Rita leadership team as a vice principal with Sister Anne D’Alessio of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The decision to become one school came as a result of the pastoral planning process occurring throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford. Decisions regarding the parishes in Hamden are still under consideration.