Holy Family Catholic School developed out of a preschool, known as the Early Childhood Center. The center opened in September 1992. A few years later, in August 1994, kindergarten opened and in 1996 the first PTO was formed. The Early Childhood Center and kindergarten operated in the activities building, which Holy Family Catholic Church opened in 1989 and which still today houses the school.
In September 1997, the school’s elementary school opened with the blessing of the Diocese of Arlington. Subsequently, the school opened one grade per year until 8th grade. Rev. Joseph Biniek, as well as Holy Family Catholic Church parishioners and preschool parents, were the driving force behind the school’s opening.
The school has grown a lot since its creation. During the school’s first year, Holy Family inherited a library from a Catholic school in West Virginia, and began cataloging and shelving books. Over the years, the school has equipped most of its classrooms with state-of-the-art technology, including ActivBoards, a top interactive technology used in elite schools nationwide and used to enhance instruction and learning. Over the years, the school has created more than 30 clubs, sports, special events and after-school programs, and has hosted a number of events like colonial day, walk for the homeless, and May crowning. Holy Family Catholic School, which educates children ages 3 through 14, is an accredited preschool, elementary and middle school. The school prides itself on the tenure of its teachers, and some have been here from the beginning. A daily lunch program was established and offers a variety of hot lunches for the children.
Holy Family has had several principals over the years. Bibiana Quiambo served from 1997 to 1999. During her tenure, the library was opened. Darlene Hilton served from 1999 to 2001. During her tenure, the school opened its computer lab and installed computers in each of its classrooms. Mrs. Hilton was the first person operating as a “principal,” and under her leadership, the school eliminated after-school day care, began calling the Early Childhood Center a preschool, held the school’s first field day. Barbara Mertens, who served as principal from 2001 to 2004, developed the first behavior plan for students, instituted monthly faculty meetings and daily prayer before school in a school chapel that existed at that time. She was very supportive of teachers and under her leadership the school began offering professional development programs to its faculty.
The first 8th grade class graduated in 2005 during Michael Gnat’s tenure as principal. Mr. Gnat, who served from 2004 to 2007, built strong relationships with parents. Louis Frisenda, who served from 2007 to 2009, developed a Learning Resource Center in the fall of 2008 to assist special education students and students facing academic challenges. Mr. Frisenda focused on professionalism of the school faculty, and spiritual professional development programs were implemented. Faculty and administrative members attended semester retreats that focused on the formation of our Catholic beliefs and identity. Joseph McLaughlin began working at Holy Family in 2009. In 2010, the middle school students’ scores on advanced high school placement tests were above the diocesan average in all subjects, and 1st graders began taking Terra Nova exams. Presently, much emphasis is put on professional development. This school year (2010-2011), faculty members attended several informative presentations on differentiated instruction, which were coordinated through George Mason University. Under the leadership of Mr. McLaughlin, the school has significantly improved its financial position, has grown its enrollment and expanded its instructional resources to support student learning. The school now offers an after school remediation program and summer school classes taught by professional, credentialed teachers. We have secured funding for a new dedicated Science teacher (for 2011 – 2012), introduced an Algebra class for our eight graders and installed Active-boards in all classes. We have also added student leadership development programs; including middle school student mentors and peer tutoring. In 2010 we introduced a new Foreign Exchange Program, where our school community hosts students from Guatemala. This year our students will have the opportunity to visit a school in Guatemala. We offer an enriched academic program that instills Catholic values and promotes cultural diversity. In 2011, the school has 255 students, 196 in the elementary and middle schools and 59 in the preschool.
Our priests, parents and parishioners have greatly contributed to the school’s success over the years, including the PTO providing the school with different educational resources such as the ActivBoards and Weekly Readers for instructional purposes. The PTO has also sponsored several different fundraisers such as the auction, Santa Week, Teacher Appreciation events, Race for Education, Falcon 5K and the pancake breakfast. We also work closely with the Knights of Columbus from our Parish. They provided the funding for our ELMO instructional cameras, installed this year, and have consistently supported our school activities and fundraisers. Our priests are always willing to support school activities and provide spiritual guidance and formation for our entire school community. Our Pastors and parochial vicars have facilitated numerous seminars for our teachers, instruction in the faith for our students and are consistently available for our school’s weekly Mass, monthly confession, counseling for at risk students and numerous other supportive activities.
Holy Family Parish was established in September 1970 by Bishop John J. Russell of Richmond. Thanks to the generosity of parishioners, the church and office building were built in 1974, the school and activities building were built in 1989, and the rectory was built in 1996. Today Holy Family Parish serves more than 12,000 registered parishioners (over 3,400 families).
A list of pastors and administrators assigned to Holy Family Church follows. Rev. Msgr. Roy R. Cosby was the founding pastor and served the church from 1970 to 1978. Rev. Vincent A. Keane served from 1978 to 1983. Rev. George J. Griffin served from 1983 to 1991. Rev. Joseph P. Biniek served from 1991 to 1998 and was instrumental in the creation of a school. Rev. Stephen F. Leva served from 1998 to 2001. Rev. José E. Hoyos served from 2001 to 2005. Rev. Donald J. Planty, Jr. served from 2005 to 2010. Rev. Gerry Creedon, our current pastor, began serving the church in 2010.
A list of parochial vicars follows. Rev. Michael Orlowsky, Rev. Nhi Tran, Rev. Mark S. Carrier (2002-2007), Rev. Donald J. Planty, Jr. (2003-2005), Rev. Michael J. Dobbins (2006-2009), Rev. Stephen McGraw (2009-present).