By William T. Clew
HARDWICK – A group of parents and teachers from the recently closed St. Mary’s School in Ware, with backing from a man now living in the midwest, plans to open St. Aloysius Catholic School this year in the Gilbertville section of town.
In a press release the group said:
“Many dedicated and committed parents and teachers from the former St. Mary’s School in Ware have formed an independent Catholic school in the St. Aloysius school building in the Gilbertville section of Hardwick … with encouragement from the Diocese of Worcester and its Catholic Schools (Office), St. Aloysius Parish’s Father Richard A. Lembo and faithful donors.
“Give your child, grandchild, niece or nephew the gift of a safe and nurturing Catholic education in the new St. Aloysius Catholic School. The faith-based curriculum will include practical experience in math, creative writing, grammar, Spanish, gym, hands-on science, art and music.”
St. Mary’s, closed June 3 because of low enrollment after 92 years of existence, according to Roberta McQuaid, a former school board member there and a backer of the new school. She said St. Mary’s was “a gem of a school” where parents could come in and read to students and help in other ways.
She said she has two daughters, 7 and 9 years old, who attended St. Mary’s. She said she wants them to benefit from a Catholic influence in their education.
She said she and other parents, along with some teachers, looked into renting the St. Mary’s building for an independent school in Ware, but the rent was too high.
They looked at the old St. Aloysius Parish school building at 52 Church St., behind St. Aloysius Church. Though it had not been used as a school since the 1970s, it has been used seasonally by the parish, she said. It has six classrooms and an assembly hall with a stage.
The school will need donors to pay to repair and modernize the building. For now, the main benefactor will be Charles “Chuck” McQuaid, her brother, who lives in suburban Chicago. His help will “get us started,” she said.
Mr. McQuaid said he, his sisters, Roberta and Rose, and his brothers, Daniel and Michael, attended St. Mary’s in Ware. He said he graduated in 1967. He said he was disappointed that the parish did not launch a major effort to keep it open. He said the education he received there contributed to the ethic of hard work that has led to his success.
He said he has contributed to the University of Chicago, where he received his MBA and to the University of Massachusetts, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He then decided there is no more worthy cause than to contribute to Catholic education, so he decided to provide seed money to St. Aloysius.
He said it will allow parents and teachers to form a virtuous circle to build enrollment, repair the building and do other work to help the school grow and be better and better without having to worry about fund-raising immediately.
He said he has seen the school building and it is structurally sound, in good condition and in a good location.
“It’s really all there,” he said.
By the end of the summer he expects the renovation work will have “revolutionized” the building and “brought it back to its glory days.”
Mrs. McQuaid said plans are for the school to have pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. There will be some multi-age classes as there were at St. Mary’s in its last years.
Delma L. Josephson, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, said the school department “will be a resource for them to the extent they would like us to be.” She said she is very happy that there is a new independent Catholic school opening in the diocese.
Mrs. McQuaid said she is grateful for the enthusiasm and support from Father Lembo and with the advice and encouragement from Superintendent Josephson.
She said she would like to see the school open with 60 to 70 students, “but we’d be happy with 40.”
The group backing the school is looking for students and donors, Mrs. McQuaid said. Applications are being accepted for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.
– Those wishing more information may visit the website at www.StAloysiusCatholicSchool.com or, after June 19, may call 413-477-1049 or 413-967-5048.