Photos and text by Steev Riccardo
St. Joseph School in Webster may be one of the oldest schools in the area, at nearly 125 years old, but you may be surprised to learn that its technology in the classroom is certainly not old school, but some of the most advanced in the region.
In a recent visit to the school on Whitcomb Street, it became quite evident that the school is moving forward, not only with new technology and learning, but also with a brand new $5 million gymnasium in its future.
St. Joseph’s Principal Don Cushing, who has a long history in education in this area, came to the school four years ago and is further proof that the school is on a solid course.
Cushing (shown above) came out of semi-retirement to take over the helm at the school following several years as an assistant basketball coach and administrator at his alma mater Worcester State University.
Before that, Cushing spent two separate lengthy stints at Bartlett High School as a teacher and the boys head basketball coach, where his record with the most wins in school history still stands. He was also head varsity basketball coach at Nichols College for five years in between. He is still regarded as one of the best coaches ever to work in this area.
Cushing recalled having one two-and-half hour session with the Monsignor Anthony Czarnecki and being offered and accepting the job as the school’s principal and has been happily in that position the last four years.
“It a wonderful school, a gem of a place,” he said, “The kids are outstanding students here; all of the students who graduated last year, for example, made the honor rolls this year at their current high schools. We do not have detention here. If I had to give out detention, I would have a hard time finding a slip. This is a very special place.”
The school has an enrollment of 130 students, Pre-K to 8th grade, with students from all over the area including Webster, Dudley, Oxford, Thompson, Putnam, Douglas, Sutton, and even Southbridge, attending.
St. Joseph has already raised nearly half of the $5 million dollars needed for its expansion and its new gymnasium. They hope to start building the foundation in July and open their new gymnasium in September 2013. Cushing feels if they don’t meet that goal it will definitely open by December.
The principal praised the school’s commitment towards athletics, which is deep in its history. They have had a successful basketball program that, under their former coach Lisa Sabacinaski, had two undefeated teams in the last five years.
One of those teams featured current Bartlett High School basketball captain Matt Huberdault, who Cushing praised and said was “a good kid, a sharpshooter on the court, and a good representative of our school, and a good representative of Bartlett High School.”
Cushing also raved about past student Tom Wozniak, who averaged 45 points a game and scored a remarkable 2000 points in his career at the school. Wozniak went on to star at both St. Peter Marian and Clark University. Of course Cushing jokingly added that he recruited him heavily while at Bartlett.
St. Joseph competes in the 395 tournament against the other Webster parochial schools St. Ann’s and St Louis every year. Despite losing on the court to St. Louis this year, Cushing was happy that the St. Joseph cheerleaders won the cheerleading competition.
The great athletics program goes hand-in-hand with the school’s outstanding academics, which produces a record number of honor students.
This past January the school formed an eight-member marketing committee to help spread the word of the school’s immense success and to recruit and continue fundraising for the new gymnasium.
Dick Skrocki, who wears many hats at the school, including dean of students, science teacher, technology advisor, committee member or “Dean of Everything” as he put it, has been working at several levels to raise the awareness of the schools many offerings.
“The marketing committee was established because we are trying to increase enrollment and that is the primary goal of the committee,” said Skrocki.
“So far we have been pretty successful. It was been part of the marketing committee’s job to put up the signs you see in certain locations around Webster. The committee is an ongoing process, we are having meetings in order to expand on what is good about the school.”
One thing that is working very well at the school is the Promethean Interactive Boards, which Skrocki brought into the school. These boards can be found in every classroom and have advanced the school’s learning potential greatly.
“They are essentially huge computer screens that allow the students to be more involved and interactive in the learning process,” said Skrocki.
“I am a certified trainer for the interactive white boards that the school now has in many of its classrooms. The school’s boards are top of the line. What is good about these boards is that I can do a lesson today and if a student is absent I can bring it back up for them to see when they come back to school.”
St Joseph School mixes both old school and new school brilliantly, setting a high standard for learning. Webster is fortunate to have such an institution in its backyard.
- Wednesday, 21 March 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News