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Bishop of Metuchen Joins 2017 Blue Ribbon Celebration at Saint Francis Cathedral School

November 10, 2017

Bishop James F. Checchio joined students, faculty, and staff today at a pep rally to celebrate the achievement of Saint Francis Cathedral School, which recently was named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Catholic school of the Diocese of Metuchen is one of 6 non-public elementary schools in New Jersey to be recognized this year as “Exemplary High Performing Schools.”  Student achievement in English and Mathematics was ranked among the highest in the country.

Saint Francis’ principal Barbara Stevens and assistant principal Judi Monteleone accepted the school’s 2017 National Blue Ribbon plaque and flag during a Nov. 7 awards presentation in Washington, D.C. led by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Both Blue Ribbon commemorative items were unveiled to the school community at the pep rally.

Bishop Checchio told those gathered at the school-wide celebration:

“I am grateful to Msgr. Robert Zamorski and Mrs. Stevens and to all of the wonderful teachers and staff here at Saint Francis for their dedication and hard work that made this recognition possible. I’m grateful for all the Saint Francis Cathedral School students and families, too, as you celebrate this distinguished recognition. What a wonderful honor for your school – and for our Diocese!

“Special thanks to your parents for choosing to send you to a Catholic school and for all they do throughout the year to make the school a life-giving place for you to learn and grow. They give a lot of themselves so that you can have a great school to come to every day… they plan family activities and fundraisers; they serve as coaches, class parents and chaperones; they volunteer in the lunchroom, library and computer lab.

“Today, be sure to go home and say thanks to mom and dad for making that choice and for making sacrifices to make sure you come to a place where you are loved and where you learn how to love others, as Jesus Himself loved others… a place where your relationship with Jesus can grow as well as your knowledge of math and science and language arts and technology – and all the other important topics you learn about here at Saint Francis Cathedral School. Be sure to thank your principal and your teachers, too.”

The Washington, D.C. awards presentation this week was part of a two-day ceremony during which the U.S. Department of Education recognized 292 public and 50 non-public schools from around the nation that were 2017 award recipients.

Reflecting on the experience of receiving the National Blue Ribbon School award, Stevens said:

“This year, for the first time, the NCEA held a reception for the 38 Catholic schools across the U.S. that were named Blue Ribbon Schools. We began in prayer and asked for God’s blessings. The fact that, as Catholic educators, we were united in prayer and in mission was an especially powerful experience and one that I will not soon forget.

“Today, and throughout the rest of the academic year, we’ll celebrate the hardworking students and outstanding faculty, who made receiving this distinguished award possible. We are grateful for our school families and for the contributions of all who were involved in the application process – some of whom have since retired but join us here, today, for this wonderful occasion.”

In the Diocese of Metuchen, Saint Francis is the fifth school named a National Blue Ribbon School. Previous award winners include: Immaculata High School, Somerville (1998); Saint Matthias School, Somerset (2001); Immaculate Conception School, Annandale (2013); and Saint Augustine of Canterbury School, Kendall Park (2016).

For information about Saint Francis Cathedral School, visit For information on Catholic schools of the Diocese of Metuchen, visit

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