A fully-accredited and licensed ‘Aftercare School Program’ will be available to students from West Hartford’s public and private schools as part of a strategic partnership between Saint Brigid School and West Hartford’s YMCA.
By Ronni Newton
The YMCA, based in West Hartford Center, is launching a new partnership with Saint Brigid School (SBS) on Mayflower Street, beginning with a new “Wrap Around” Aftercare program this fall that will solve a critical childcare need for many local families.
West Hartford YMCA Executive Director Sean Fongemie sees the new three-year plan as a means to better serve children, their families, and the community at large.
“This new program enables area children to be transported daily, after their school day ends, to SBS where they will be involved in our various YMCA programs. West Hartford and the surrounding area have waiting lists currently at the elementary schools. We are filling a real need here with high-quality programming at an easily accessible location,” Fongemie said.
SBS Principal Shevon Hickey and Fongemie have been working on the State of Connecticut license for the Wrap Around program for the past year, and recently received certification to enroll 100 children at the SBS campus in West Hartford.
Fongemie noted that the West Hartford YMCA will provide affordable and accredited aftercare, as well as vacation camps, snow day camps and a summer camp. “Imagine having the opportunity to drop off your children at the SBS/YMCA campus on a snow day, for example, and continuing to work knowing that they are receiving great care,” Fongemie said.
Dr. Dale Hoyt, Superintendent of the Office of Catholic Schools, Archdiocese of Hartford said that the Archdiocese is committed to community Catholic Schools and applauds SBS and the YMCA for their vision and collaboration.
The arrangement with the West Hartford YMCA is just one example of the way Saint Brigid is finding innovative ways to partner with the community.
SBS Board Chair, Dr. Gregory M. Sottile announced that effective July 1, Father Joe Crowley assumed the position of pastor of Saint Brigid Church. “There is a lot of work ahead and many exciting opportunities,” said Sottile. “With Father Crowley’s leadership and enthusiasm for Catholic education and Saint Brigid School, we’re ready for the challenge.”
Recognizing that Catholic Schools today must be self-sustaining, Sottile noted that Bob and Marianne Rice, alumni from the first SBS graduating class are heading up the school VIP700 fundraising campaign and to date have raised nearly $250,000 of the $700,000 goal. Both Hickey and Sottile acknowledge and thanked the Archdiocese, St. Brigid Parish and all VIP 700 supporters who have pledged their commitment to the School and its mission.
SBS is located on a 10-acre campus in the Elmwood area of West Hartford, easily accessible from I-84, Rt.9, New Britain Avenue and the new CTfastrak line. Its location makes it a “regional resource,” and a perfect location for an aftercare service, according to Advancement Director Andrea Austin-Thompson.
Thompson said, “At every daily open house we can see the excitement not only in our community but in the machinery and building taking place in the Elmwood area. We have partnered with the Town of West Hartford by opening up access to neighboring Beachland Park and providing parking and a safe haven for all, including special needs summer campers all season long.”
Saint Brigid School sees its proximity to Beachland Park as another great asset that can be accessible to those in the Aftercare program.
Beachland Park is currently under renovation, with the Town of West Hartford investing nearly $2 million dollars on a new pool, splash pad and handicap access for easy drop-off and pick-up. It is also accessible to the new bike/walking trail.
“Our campus is full of activity, as shown in the ‘REimagine’ rendering that paints a picture of the possibilities on and around the SBS campus for the Town of West Hartford, the State of Connecticut, the YMCA and the Archdiocese of Hartford,” said Thompson.
Dr. Rick Liftig, President of the Elmwood Business Association added, “The CTfastrak will play a role in the development of this campus with easy access through Beachland Park and New Britain Avenue. We have been partnering with Principal Hickey on the Taste of Elmwood for two years now and it has been mutually beneficial.”
Principal Shevon Hickey (SBS Class of 1975) added that St. Brigid School embraces its regional, community, faith-based education and has chosen to take the lead in West Hartford and beyond. “We believe our cultural, ethnic, socio-economic and religious diversity reflects today’s global community. Academically, our focus remains the same – educating children from PreK3 through Grade 8 with a student/teacher ratio of 10:1 or less. As SBS aggressively moves forward in the 21st century we will continue to celebrate commitment to academic excellence, strong Catholic values, and enriched diversity. That commitment now spans more than 50 years.”
St. Brigid School is located at 100 Mayflower Street in West Hartford. To enroll or inquire about the Aftercare Program, please call the West Hartford YMCA at 860-521-5830. For more information about the school, call 860-561-2130, ext. 104, or email Andrea Thompson at [email protected]. You may also find them online and on Facebook.