• Joseph F. Berenato

LoSasso named St. Joe principal


Nick LoSasso started as St. Joseph Academy's principal on August 9. (Courtesy Photo)

HAMMONTON—St. Joseph Academy is gearing up for classes to begin.


Nicola Howard, the school’s president, said that the school will begin its second year with a new principal: former Hammonton High School history teacher and assistant principal Nick LoSasso, who started as St. Joseph Academy’s principal on August 9.


“That’s an amazing accomplishment for us. I’m so excited to have him onboard. I know he’s going to be such an asset to St. Joseph Academy,” Howard told The Gazette.


St. Joseph Academy’s business manager, Joe Rodio, agreed, and said that the hiring of LoSasso is “probably the biggest news that we’ve launched this summer.”


“He’s got a tremendous amount of administrative experience in the public schools. More recently, he taught at St. Augustine Prep, and I, personally, am extremely excited about that. I’m looking forward to working with him and having him guide us over the hump a little bit from an education standpoint. I think he’s going to bring a lot of talent to the table that we definitely are in need of. He’s a good fit,” Rodio said.


Speaking with The Gazette, LoSasso said that his career has taken him to several schools throughout the region—including Middle Twp. High School, Overbrook High School, and Riverside Twp. High School—where he served in various roles that included athletic director and principal. Following his retirement from public education, LoSasso said that he has spent the last nine years teaching at St. Augustine Preparatory School in Richland.


LoSasso said that he was eager for “the opportunity to get the school up and running.”


“My belief in a good education, a Catholic education, brought me to it. I want to be able to help the school out. It was a sad thing to see that St. Joe wasn’t there; there wasn’t a Catholic high school in the town of Hammonton, with its rich tradition. All those factors played into it,” LoSasso said.


LoSasso said that he has several goals as principal of St. Joseph Academy.


“Academically, get the school thriving. Increase numbers. Provide services, not only educationally but religiously. Become part of the community again. Move it forward. Provide students with the 21st century education that they can go out and become productive citizens of society,” LoSasso said.


LoSasso said that the school’s success is dependent on a “team effort.”


“We all have to put those pieces of the puzzle together to make it a success. It’s going to be a lot of hard work; that’s the bottom line. This isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to take hard work, and it’s going to take dedication from everybody. I’m going to meet the staff and put a mission together, a vision together, along with the board, the president, and move forward,” LoSasso said.


Robert Bartolone, the vice-chair of the board of trustees, said that the board is “very, very excited about him joining us.”


“He’s highly respected and experienced. We think he’s going to be a great asset for us,” Bartolone said.


Bartolone also said that the board is eager to welcome the school’s incoming freshmen.


“We have a pretty good, diverse group of students who are coming in,” Bartolone said.


Howard said that all freshmen will be required to take a three-part course that begins as a technology course. Howard acknowledged the probable technological acumen of the incoming students, but noted that they may not be familiar with technology “from the perspective of how St. Joseph Academy is going to be set up.”


“We’re going to teach them Google Classroom; we’re going to teach them all of the applications in Google Classroom and how to function within Google Classroom. We’re going to also teach them how to set up emails, set up calendars, set up a signature line in the email and how to actually write an email. What we have seen with students all over is that they write an email like they’re text messaging their friends. During that class, they’re going to learn how to build a simple resume, and, at the same time, they’ll do some mock interviews in that class,” Howard said.


Following that segment, Howard said that the students will advance into freshman writing before going into freshman public speaking.


“We’re going to teach them right from the get-go how to present during a classroom session or how to present to a group—which we think is very important as we continue to grow our academics here. Especially when you come into one of our business classes—and our future dual-credit courses—you’re going to have to give presentations,” Howard said.


Rodio said that the curriculum will be expanding St. Joseph Academy for the 2021-22 school year.


“We’ve got a whole slew of businesses classes that we’re offering, two of which are being taught by yours truly. I’m teaching an accounting class and a personal finance class; that’s geared for juniors and seniors, and they’ll get college credit for that,” Rodio said.


Howard explained further.


“During the first semester, we’re going to teach Intro to Financial Management as a business course with Atlantic Cape Community College, and we’re going to teach Business 101 as a dual-credit course with them. That will run from September to December. In January, when the kids come back from winter break, it’ll be Accounting 101 and Entrepreneurship. They’re the four business courses that we’re teaching here. We do have other dual-credit courses that we are teaching currently, and we’re also working on getting certification through different colleges that add some of the current classes that we’re teaching into that curriculum,” Howard said.


At the end of the school year, Howard said, St. Joseph Academy will be having what they call “an advanced semester.”


“That’s going to be a third semester at St. Joseph Academy. The children will put their work toward service hours, toward learning about history or toward learning different life skills. Nick LoSasso is going to help us build that,” Howard said.


Additionally, Howard said that the school plans to have students perform the morning and afternoon announcements.


“I think it’s extremely important to get them in front of a camera, especially because it builds their leadership skills on top of public speaking,” Howard said.


Howard noted that the next few months will be busy ones at St. Joseph Academy, starting with a chicken barbecue and car show fundraiser on the grounds of the school on August 19, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


September promises to be even busier.


“On September 2, we’re going to have an all-school pep rally and cookout for all students and family of St. Joseph Academy. The next day, our football team goes over to Holy Spirit and plays them, which is one of our biggest rivalries,” Howard said.


The first day of school, Howard said, will be September 8.


“The kids will be full in-person learning, as long as the governor does not make any changes to the current recommendations,” Howard said.


The school will have a back-to-school night on September 21, followed by a college/parent seminar in the evening on September 30.


“That will go over—with juniors, incoming seniors and parents—easy ways to process different applications from different colleges, the different portals you can go onto, financial aid help and any answer any questions they might have coming our way,” Howard said.


There are a number of events planned for the remainder of the fall as well.


“We’re beginning an academic, athletic and service student of the month during the entire school year; that will begin in October. We’re going to have our student government installation on October 7. On October 14, we are having our enrollment open house. We’re looking to have our homecoming dance on October 23, and on October 27 we’re going to have our Woman’s Institute of Leadership and Learning seminar. We’re hoping to grow it; because of COVID last year, we were unable to grow it ... We have a ring ceremony on November 8 for their rings, then Thanksgiving comes,” Howard said.


Bartolone also noted that there is a fundraiser on October 17.


“It’s a 5K event that honors Scott Henshaw, who was a very revered teacher at St. Joseph High School for many, many years. We’re very excited about that one,” Bartolone said.


Pre-registration for the 5K Run or Walk is $30; registration the day of the event is $35. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the race begins at 10 a.m. Interested parties may visit stjosephacademy.com/5k for more information.


Howard said that, as the winter months approach, students should be prepared for the fact that St. Joseph Academy “will not be taking off for snow days.”


“We will not calculate snow days into our schedule, because we will just go on remote learning. There’s no reason to have a snow day anymore ... They’re going to get out of school quite a bit earlier. They won’t have to go an extra one, two or three more days because of snow days,” Howard said.


In regards to the school’s athletic programs, Howard said that St. Joseph Academy has had “great success with all of our camps this summer.”


“We’re very proud of the camps that we had; we’ve done very well. Football is coming back, boys’ soccer is coming back, girls’ soccer is coming back, volleyball is coming back and field hockey is coming back. We really are getting our athletics underway,” Howard said.


The continued growth these teams—and the school as a whole—is reliant on a sufficiently sized student body. Rodio noted that “things have been looking up on enrollment.”


“We’re still enrolling people for the fall. Enrollment activity is improving,” Rodio said.


Howard concurred with Rodio.


“We’re doing extremely well on our enrollment. There’s always room for improvement, which there should be, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction and our school is growing,” Howard said.


To help assist in the enrollment effort, Howard said that St. Joseph Academy recently hired a new enrollment manager, Aleea Bishop, who is relocating from Georgia.


“I’m excited. I’ve had multiple conversations with her; she currently works for the Ronald McDonald House recruiting volunteers, and that’s the kind of person I need, who understands community outreach to get out there in the community. It’s so important to build those relationships, how to sell the school, how to retain students, engage them, the whole nine yards. She’s got those qualifications,” Howard said.


Bartolone said that he was hopeful about what the 2021-22 school year holds for St. Joseph Academy.


“The first year was a little challenging, especially due to COVID. We’re hoping that we have a great second year. We’re monitoring the CDC and Department of Health guidance pretty closely, and we’re hoping that second year progresses well for us,” Bartolone said.


Bartolone said that there is “a lot of great stuff happening at St. Joseph Academy.”


“Nearly all of our faculty came back, and they’re very excited and dedicated to making the school really work. With Nick LoSasso’s guidance, I think the combination of a very strong principal—someone who can relate to the students and parents very well—with our tremendous faculty is going to be a recipe for success, for sure, and the second year’s going to be a really, really great year for St. Joseph Academy,” Bartolone said.