Holy Family Catholic School (HFCS) developed out of a daycare and preschool, known as the Early Childhood Center. The center opened in September 1994. Two years later, in August 1996, the kindergarten opened, and shortly after the first parent-teacher organization (PTO) was formed. The Early Childhood Center and kindergarten operated in the activities building, opened by Holy Family Catholic Church in 1989, which continues to house the school.
In the fall of 1997, the school’s elementary school opened with the blessing of the Diocese of Arlington. Subsequently, the school opened one grade per year until the eighth grade was established. 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 flourished since its creation. During the school’s first year, HFCS inherited a library from a Catholic school in West Virginia, and began cataloging and shelving books. Over the years, the school has equipped all of its classrooms with ActivBoards to enhance instruction and learning. Over the years, the school has created numerous clubs, sports, special events, and after-school programs, and has hosted a number of events like Colonial Day, the Falcon 5K, and Cultural Awareness Day. Holy Family Catholic School, which educates children ages 3 through 14, has an accredited preschool, known as The Glory Bee Preschool, elementary and middle schools. The school prides itself on the tenure of its teachers.
Holy Family Catholic School 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. Under her guidance, the school opened its computer lab and installed computers in each of its classrooms. Mrs. Hilton, who was the first person operating as a “principal,” was instrumental in transitioning the Early Childhood Center to a formal preschool, and commenced the school’s first field day. Barbara Mertens, who served as principal from 2001 to 2004, developed the first individualized plan for students, instituted monthly faculty meetings, and school-wide, daily, morning prayer. The school also began offering professional development programs to its faculty.
The first eighth grade class graduated in 2005 during Michael Gnat’s first year as principal. Mr. Gnat, who served from 2004 to 2007, built strong relationships with parents. As principal, he had a gym floor installed in what is now known as Father Griffin Hall. 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 professional development of the school faculty, and spiritual professional development programs were implemented. Faculty and administrative members attended semester retreats that focused on the formation of Catholic beliefs and identity. Joseph McLaughlin began working at Holy Family in 2009. In 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 improved its financial position, increased its enrollment, and expanded its instructional resources to support learning, most predominantly through a “hands-on” science program called Lab Learner. Holy Family Catholic School was the first school in Prince William County to implement this award-winning program. The prekindergarten full-day program for five year olds, which included reading enrichment, was also implemented.
The current principal, Sarah Chevlin, began her tenure in 2012. Under Mrs. Chevlin’s leadership, the school continued to add programs and features designed to enrich the lives of its students. A Robotics Club was started to keep up with global developments in science, technology, religion, engineering, and mathematics (STREAM). The number of iPads purchased by the school has increased, moving the school towards a 1:1 iPad-to-student ratio. The iPads have allowed HFCS to use various educational programs in the classroom including Sumdog, IXL, Quizlet, and Vocabulary/Spelling City. A guided reading program has also been implemented in grades K-5 to help improve the reading skills of our diverse student body. A school “families” system has been put into effect where students are placed into subunits with members from kindergarten through eighth grade. Families complete numerous Gospel-based activities during the school year and compete against each other on field day. New students are assigned to a family upon enrollment to the school.
In addition to new clubs and programs, the school has supplemented the staff with two new faculty positions: school counselor and curriculum coordinator. The school counselor provided monthly lessons to each grade based upon the virtue of the month. She was also readily available to help guide our students as needed during the school year. The curriculum coordinator had various duties which include assisting the learning resource teacher with our special needs students, providing instruction for gifted learners through the enrichment program, and working with classroom teachers to use new educational resources designed to enhance learning and improve the classroom experience. Professional development has remained a priority under the current administration; the school is currently using Fred Jones Tools for Teaching to improve and streamline our classroom management skills.
The preschool has continued to flourish, adding a full-day prekindergarten for four year olds, a reading enrichment program, and a Lunch Bunch program for its younger preschool classes. In 2016 the pre-school was renamed “The Glory Bee Pre-School.”
Priests, parents and parishioners have greatly contributed to the school’s success over the years. The PTO has graciously provided financial support for different educational resources. The PTO has also sponsored several profitable fundraisers such as PTO Dinner Nights, the Three Kings Shop, Bingo Night, and Trivia Night. The funds raised by the PTO allowed HFCS to have a build new playground built on the school grounds for use during recess. The school also has generous support of the parish’s Knights of Columbus council. They provided funding for our ELMO instructional cameras, and have consistently supported our school activities and fundraisers. Our priests provide continual support for 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 confessions, classroom visits, counseling for at risk students, and numerous other supportive activities.