By Deacon Tom Picciano
Sun contributing writer
JOHNSON CITY — A billboard on Main Street with a bright logo advertises a new school in a well-seasoned building. St. James — in existence for more than 70 years — is being transformed as part of the changes to the Broome County Catholic Schools.
Seton Catholic Central High School will welcome seventh and eighth graders next fall from across the county. Pre-K to 6th grade students will attend All Saints at Seton Catholic in Endicott, St. John the Evangelist in Binghamton and St. James.
It’s a blending of traditions for St. James with St. Thomas Aquinas, which is closing at the end of this school year. That presented a challenge for a very enthusiastic principal George Clancy. Clancy felt it was important to develop a logo to represent the uniting of the school communities.
“We’re bringing two groups together,” said Clancy, who has led St. James School for 10 years. “It’s been natural to go from St. Thomas to here. We call them sister schools. Many of the kids I have now have younger sisters and brothers who are at St. Thomas. It’s not going to be a real difficult transition.”
“In our school we have a $10,000 curtain in the gymnasium that’s blue. And Mary has been the patron saint even though we’re St. James,” Clancy said. “Every day we say the Hail Mary and on Fridays we say the Our Father.”
St. Thomas, celebrating its Irish heritage, uses green as its main color. Seton Catholic Central High School has a green color scheme as well, and in addition uses the image of a halo in its logo.
The most recent St. James logo started with 20 different ideas and was narrowed to two before the final one was picked. It appears on many places including car magnets around the area. Clancy spent some time in recent months developing a new logo for the combined school in the fall.
“How do you take our great logo, which we have a real attachment to, and then mix the color of the blue and the color of the green and stick the Saints logo in there too?” he asked. “You notice it goes from blue to green which is like going from here to the high school,” Clancy said. The logo was a group effort, he said, with input from many, including students, the Catholic Schools Office and St. James pastor, Father John Donovan.
“I think we came out with something that met with everyone’s approval,” he said, adding that the white lettering, “Catholic Schools of Broome County” ties it all together.
There will be some changes going on at St. James over the summer, including renovations to the restrooms. The building will be painted and carpet will be installed in the new library. It will all be ready for approximately 120 students on the first day of school in September.
Clancy noted that the Catholic school system is like a big family, which he said is important when welcoming new families.
“The pre-K element is going to be a positive for us because it gives people the opportunity to be introduced to the school system at an earlier age,” Clancy said. “Then they realize, ‘I like the faith-based education, I like the families my children are hanging out with, I like the parents that are seriously interested in education.’”
Clancy is also conscious of retaining traditions from St. James and St. Thomas.
“The idea was to sit down with different groups, and it started out with the kids. There are certain things you want to bring from St. Thomas to here,” Clancy said.
“In the time that I’ve been here, I think that we have more of a system. It’s not as competitive,” he said. “If they don’t choose my school but instead they decide that they’re going to go to St. John’s or to All Saints, that’s great. We want them staying in our school system and being happy.”