The school bell rang for the final time June 16 at St. Francis de Sales School in Aston, marking the end of an era of Franciscan elementary education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The school was founded in 1895 when three Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia arrived via horse and buggy to a small church on New Road in Aston. For 121 years, the sisters and faculty of St. Francis strived to instill the Franciscan ideals of excellence, building relationships and service in each child who passed through the halls of the “little school on the hill.”
After receiving the news that their school would be closing, the faculty, staff and parent volunteers continued to work together to make the last few months a nurturing and loving environment for all the children.
The students were able to showcase their academic talents in the Delaware County Science Fair, Pennsylvania Middle School Computer Fair and the Archdiocesan Arts Festival, as well as the annual spring concert at Neumann University.
Closing events were held to honor the memory of St. Francis de Sales School as the students and teachers gathered June 14 on the school grounds to bury a time capsule. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade chose an item representing the school. Items such as a Franciscan cross, No Uniform Today (NUT) passes, a yearbook, the school mission statement and class photos were placed in a box to be buried at the foot of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the school grounds.
The closing observance continued in the evening as families of current students gathered for a dinner at the Ballrooms of Boothwyn in Boothwyn, sponsored by the Home and School Board Association. Carnival games, face painting, dancing and “selfie” photos in front of a mural of the school painted by fourth grade teacher Marie Samohod made for a memorable night for everyone.
The eighth grade class gathered for their graduation Mass and ceremony June 15 at St. Francis de Sales Church. The 24 students wore caps and gowns in the school colors of green with gold tassels, representing the last class to graduate from St. Francis de Sales.