Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Feast Day Features Kelleher Hall Dedication

Demarest, NJ: Sister Genevieve Marie Kelleher was the guest of honor at the Academy of the Holy Angels’ October 2nd observance of the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. In addition to the celebration of the 138th anniversary of the school’s founding by Sister Nonna Dunphy, this year’s event included the dedication of Sister Genevieve Kelleher Hall. “Today marks an extraordinary day in the history of Holy Angels,” said AHA President Melinda Hanlon. In addition to celebrating the storied history of the Academy, President Hanlon said Feast Day was also about looking forward to a future filled with great promise.

Distinguished guests included Bishop John Flesey, Reverend Larry Evans, Father James Heuser, and Reverend Stephen Carey; members of the AHA Board of Trustees, led by Sister Sharon Slear; area school officials; and leaders from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, AHA’s founders and sponsors.

S. Genevieve was recognized for her 63 years of contributions to the young women who passed through AHA during her tenure. S. Genevieve, who was active at AHA between 1948 (when the campus was in Fort Lee) and 2011, is the longest-serving SSND at Holy Angels. She taught English, French, religion, biology, and history, and logged time as the school’s librarian.

The building named in her honor was once her home.

“My bedroom was on the second floor, overlooking the lake,” S. Genevieve recalled.

Used as a convent when AHA moved to Demarest in 1965, Kelleher Hall once housed 40 SSNDs. As the needs of the school community changed, the 20,000 square foot building was reimagined several times. After the extensive renovation project that began in February, the first floor now includes a Mac Lab, two multi-purpose classrooms, and two brand new art studios with an abundance of natural light, the realization of a dream for former art teacher S. Eileen Casey, who finds natural light essential for fine artists.

S. Eileen was on hand for the dedication.

AHA’s business offices, two conference rooms, and an SSND Heritage Suite and archive are all located on the second floor. The SSND Heritage Suite and archive were a gift from the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

The design of the building blends contemporary and traditional elements, and all of the updates were made within the building’s existing footprint. Those who are familiar with the building will recognize the original shape of the windows and the distinctive main entry overhang that recalls the hats once worn by the SSNDs.

The building also echoes AHA’s theme for the 2017-18 academic year: “We seek what they (the SSNDs) sought.”“We seek today to continue the work started by S. Nonna Dunphy in 1879 to transform the world through education. I believe it’s still the same work that we do, and we are honored to carry on their mission in this new space. I feel the building has been completely brought back to life to serve today’s students,” President Hanlon stated.

Kelleher Hall includes additional space and state-of-the-art equipment to bolster AHA’s STREAM curriculum, which encompasses science, technology, religion, engineering, art, and mathematics. The Mac Lab will enhance AHA’s digital design curriculum, and the construction of the new art classrooms has freed up three classrooms in the main school building.“Green” elements featured in Kelleher Hall include LED lighting activated by sunlight sensors; high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment that runs on a centrally controlled timer; drinking fountains that double as water bottle filling stations; and automatic hand dryers in the bathrooms. The carpeting and other flooring contain “green” components, including elements that are sustainable, renewable, or made with recycled materials.

The renovation was carried out with the help of a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor, who asked that the building be renamed for S. Genevieve. However, Hanlon noted that this project was not the work of any one person, and reported that the AHA Capital Campaign is still in progress.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.



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