By Jessica Easthope
If Nazareth Regional High School’s Kingsmen mascot is any indication, the school community knows how to fight for what matters.
“Perseverance, wellness and balance, I think throughout the pandemic and continuing into the new year, I think is something we’ve already experienced and can continue to reflect on moving forward,” said Principal John Amelio.
Principal Amelio is new to the job and the Brooklyn Diocese. Though he’s facing a global health crisis, he’s sticking to what he knows best: letting academics and faith lead the way.
“Being a Catholic myself I believe that now I will be able to fully instill my values in the students and learn from them and really cater to their needs and their background,” said Amelio.
When learning moved online in March the school didn’t miss a beat, or a class. The first quarter of this school year will also be online.
“We truly decided that it would be the best possible way to open the school in terms of safety and security for our students and staff,” Amelio said.
Nazareth Regional stands out in the Brooklyn Diocese. The school is 99 percent minority, and has had a 100 percent graduation rate for the last four years.
“We’re incredibly proud of our kids that they work so hard and they understand dedication, hard work and we will continue to educate our kids moving forward to make sure they continue the long tradition of what is Nazareth,” said Providencia Quiles, the president of the school.
Principal Amelio has big shoes to fill. Quiles is his predecessor, and was principal of the school for nine years. Nazareth has suited up for battle in the past with Quiles leading the charge. Long before the pandemic was a threat, another danger loomed in the halls.
“Nazareth was slated to close, many years ago,” Quiles said.
In 2012 the school was losing more money and students than it could handle, and was in a dire financial state. But Quiles managed to do the impossible with her students motivating her fighting spirit the whole way.
“I worked 20 hours a day for months to ensure that we got the guidance, the support, the finances and we pulled everything together,” said Quiles.
Now the pandemic is a new obstacle for Nazareth, as the first day of school on September 14 fast approaches. But Amelio and Quiles say it’s nothing they can’t handle together.
“As you continue to work through all adversity your faith gets stronger, and I think that this has made us stronger. We are a bigger unit, we are with God all the time and we are going to continue moving forward,” Quiles said.
If community is the school’s suit of armor and academics its sword, faith is its shield.