A Primer for Children
Our school is 140 years old. We are proud to celebrate our school. Over the years, our school has changed. Of course, the buildings have changed; the faculty and students have changed too! The special reason our school was started and its wonderful story has just grown and grown.
In 1870, there were lots of farms here in Middle Village. Most of the families on the farms had many children. In those days, they all spoke German. These children needed an education. When Father Thoma was the Pastor, he asked the Dominican Sisters to send some Sisters to Middle Village from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sister Henrica Stenger, OP came to be the first Principal of Saint Margaret School. Sisters Appolonia, Fabiana and Honorata also came. The school began to grow as more and more children moved to the Village.
1899 – 1926
Soon there were almost 100 girls and boys in Saint Margaret School. It was just too many for the small building. The priests and the people went to work to build a new building that could be used for school and the people of the Village.
The new building was three stories high. Many of the new students were from other countries and they didn’t speak German. The Sisters now began to teach in one language that all could learn; they taught in English. There were three large classrooms so everyone had a place. During the planning and building, Sisters Christina Harth and Philippa Rainer were principals.
But this new school had some very different things than most schools back then. This school building had a pool hall and a bowling alley. These things were for the older people to use. It was wonderful to have a space for everyone, but there were days when the Sisters found that it was just too noisy.
1926 – 1935
The village, the church and Saint Margaret School were growing. Many happy families had found a parish and school filled with love. In 1926, a very special priest came to the parish to be Pastor; his name was Monsignor Henry P. Kunig. He was Pastor for 32 years. Monsignor made sure that the church and school were filled with beautiful music and prayers praising our God. Sister Philippa and later Sister Lydia, who were principals at this time, found the school again bursting at the seams. There were almost 500 children. Monsignor was also concerned that the church could no longer fit all the families.
A new and wonderful building to serve everyone was planned by Monsignor. This building would be a combination of Church and School. It was built to last and to fit all the people that would come there to pray and learn. During these years, many more Sisters came to live and teach at Saint Margaret School.
1935 – 1960
More and more people came to the Village. So many wonderful and talented students and teachers filled Saint Margaret’s halls. We wish we could name them all but that would fill a book.
After World War II, the parish again grew very fast. More priests and sisters were needed to serve all the people. In 1951, a new rectory was built for the priests. Then, in 1956, a new convent was built for the sisters. These buildings are the ones we know today.
Father Ernest Fries became Pastor in 1958 and began plans to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Saint Margaret Parish.
During these years, there were 1,000 students in the school and there were many Sisters who served as principal. Since not all the children of the parish attended Saint Margaret School, the Sisters taught Religion to those children after Saint Margaret’s students were dismissed.
1960 – 1980
The Sixties were an exciting time, especially in schools. It was the beginning of the space age. Math and Science were subjects that would be very important to the leaders of the future.
There were now specialized teachers for the various subjects in the middle and upper grades. The first few grades still kept to the one classroom and teacher for their lessons. In the late sixties, men landed on the moon. New frontiers were opening up. Schools needed new equipment and Science labs.
Saint Maraget School was under the guidance of three Dominican Sisters as principals during these years: Sister Jeanne d’Arc, Sister Anita Palone and Sister Patricia Bryant.
1980 – 2000
Technology and communications were making us all realize that our world was not so big after all. We began to see things from far away without leaving our homes or classrooms.
More and more people of different cultures came to live in Middle Village bringing with them more wonderful news of the wider world. For the next 14 years, Sister Joan Cahill, OP was the principal of Saint Margaret School. The school grew not in size but in diversity and new experiences.
Computers and new subjects were filling the school. Even after school, all these great new ideas created new clubs and work groups. Students had much to learn, but so did teachers and parents who had never learned these things when they were going to school.
In 1994, Saint Margaret welcomed the first principal who was not a Dominican Sister. Sister Bridget Olwell, OSU was an Ursuline Sister. Sister Bridget picked up where Sister Joan left off and carried on the traditions of Saint Margaret School for 14 years. Sister Patricia McCann, OP, an Amityville Dominican continued the Dominican presence.
The Year 2000 brought us into a new century. Saint Margaret School has now been part of the 1800s, 1900s and the 2000s. How exciting tyo be a part of history even as you are studying it in class.
Sister Bridget, as principal, made sure that the students were provided with all the tools to meet the challenges of this new century.
In 2008, Sister Rena Perrone, OP became the principal and St. Margaret School once again had a Dominican Sister as principal. Smart Boards, Eno Board, laptops and Rosetta Stone technology are terms the first teachers and students could not have imagined.
Love of God and neighbor, truth and respect for all God’s people and the earth, are values that have spanned the glorious history. As St. Margaret School celebrates 140 years of education, it is wonderful to look back on all the achievements and to look ahead to all that will come.
In 2011, Dr. Philip Franco became the principal of St, Margaret. Over the course of five years the school added a 3-year old Nursery (Pre-K 3) program and also began the “St. Margaret Angels” two year old mommy and me type program. The school grew again to about 400 students.
Also during this time, a generous graduate made possible the state-of-the-art Repole Tech Center as well as the completely refurbished Parish Hall. Both added significantly to the physical plant and technological capabilities of the growing school family.
2016-22 St. Margaret Catholic Academy
In September 2016 the school opened with a new Principal, Ms. Victoria Richardson. Ms. Richardson had already served as Assistant Principal and Teacher. She was welcomed warmly and very ready for this new position.
As of September 2016, the school, like all Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn, opens as an Academy. This simply means a new structure of governance. The Academy will now be overseen by the Board of Directors, with Ms. Richardson, our Principal, as the educational leader moving us forward into 21st century learning. Over the course of six years, Ms. Richardson worked with our board of directors as we continued to thrive. In 2020 when the world paused due to a pandemic, the team of teachers and staff transitioned into remote learning. A new experience for students, parents and teachers yet our collaborative approach kept our students learning. When our doors opened in the fall of 2020, we persevered with caution and were able to be open everyday for students to learn. In 2022, our team of administration, board, teachers, staff, students and parents worked collaboratively to become accredited by Cognia. We continue to work on our continuous improvement plan to bring the best education to our students.
September 2022 brings Ms. Swift, a new principal with a very strong technology background and years of experience working in Catholic education. We look forward to continuing our growth and improvement as we begin this new chapter in our long and memorable history.
We are ready to keep going and growing as we are still strong after well over 150 years!