By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

St. John of the Cross School in Roslyn and Queen of Peace School in Ardsley, Montgomery County, will consolidate to form a regional school in September at the current Queen of Peace campus.

The school’s name will be chosen by Cardinal Justin Rigali after suggestions are solicited from school families and a steering committee that consists of the two parish pastors, principals and lay representatives of each parish.

“I think it’s pretty neat that we get to go with the St. John’s kids,” said 12-year-old Sam Milz, the seventh grade class representative at Queen of Peace School. “I’m happy. I’m looking forward to meeting them.”

Bridget Bryson, 13, a seventh-grade homeroom representative at St. John of the Cross School, was also pleased. “I’m happy we’re combining because there’s going to be lot more people to talk to.”

Both Sam and Bridget will make history as members of the first graduating class of the regional school. “I kind of wanted to graduate at St. John’s, but I guess it’s better to have more people to graduate with,” Bridget said.

Father John D. Reardon, pastor of St. John of the Cross Parish, and Father Lawrence F. Crehan, pastor of Queen of Peace Parish, announced at weekend Masses Feb. 13-14 that Cardinal Rigali had approved the steering committee’s recommendation to consolidate the schools.

Decreasing enrollments and rising costs to run the schools prompted the reorganization.

“This is the best way that we could determine to provide quality and affordable Catholic education for the parents who choose it,” Father Reardon said.

Father Crehan believes the regional school’s combined resources would prove to be a boon to students.

The principal will be Sister Patricia Healey of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, currently the principal of Queen of Peace School. The assistant principal and director of development will be Marianne R. Garnham, currently the principal of St. John of the Cross School.

Enrollment at Queen of Peace School, which opened in 1955, is currently 155 in pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade. The figure represents a decrease of 77 students from the 232 enrolled there in 2005-’06 and a decrease of 60 from the 215 students enrolled there in 2000-’01.

The highest number of students in a class at Queen of Peace is 21; the lowest number is 12.

Enrollment at St. John of the Cross School, which opened in 1954, is currently 148 in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The number represents a decrease of 81 students from the 229 enrolled there five years ago and a decrease of 151 from the 299 students enrolled there 10 years ago.

The highest number of students in a class at St. John of the Cross is 24; the lowest number is six.

Some of the students from the neighboring schools already know each other from Catholic Youth Organization activities and through a summer theater program that children from both parishes attend at St. John of the Cross Parish.

In September 2009, two steering committees were formed after the two parishes received permission from Cardinal Rigali to study the viability of a regional school. With overwhelming support from both parishes, the steering committees came to a unanimous decision to close both schools and form a new school for the purpose of pooling resources and offering students the best values-based academic experience.

Cardinal Rigali approved the consolidation Monday, Feb. 8.

“Both Queen of Peace and St. John of the Cross have long traditions of offering high quality Catholic education rooted in Gospel values,” the Cardinal said.

“Now, those exceptional schools will combine powerfully into a new regional school that will serve our students well and build upon the legacies and reputations of Queen of Peace and St. John of the Cross.”

Acknowledging that the transition may be difficult for students, teachers and school families, the Cardinal has asked the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education to assist them throughout the consolidation process.

St. John of the Cross School is located at 2801 Woodland Road in Roslyn. Queen of Peace School is located at 835 N. Hills Ave. in Ardsley. The distance between the two schools is 1.5 miles.

The rich histories of the schools lie not in the buildings themselves, but in the faith and fabric of the people who were formed in them, Father Crehan said. “Together, we are creating a new history. For, like our Church, we are living and active and always growing in the Lord.”

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or