Christian Brothers Academy welcomes seventh graders at orientation

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

James McClimans joined 123 other students from over 30 elementary schools along with their parents at a new student orientation for incoming seventh graders on Sept. 2 at CBA in the Callahan Gym.

“I’m very excited,” said James.

The orientation provided an opportunity for the incoming seventh graders to become familiar with their new school. They visited their homerooms and lockers for the first time and met some of the key school personnel. Meanwhile, the parents heard presentations from various school organizations.

James’ mother, Judy McClimans, was surprised to see her son so excited about entering a new school. “He usually doesn’t like change,” McClimans said.

James graduated from St. Mary’s School in Cortland last June.

The seventh grader said that he was looking forward to participating in CBA’s sports programs, particularly in soccer, basketball and baseball.

James’ sister, Rose, is enrolled as a senior at CBA. “Rose chose CBA out of all the other schools she considered and she has never doubted her decision. She is very happy,” said McClimans. “We like CBA’s structure and what they offer. We’re very fortunate.”

The orientation began as newly-appointed principal Brother Joseph Jozwiak, FSC, greeted everyone individually at the door of the school and later told them at the beginning of his presentation, “I’m sure you will feel welcomed here, just as I have been since July.”

Brother Joseph began serving as principal July 1, replacing Brother Thomas Zoppo, FSC, who had been principal at CBA since 2003.

A member of the CBA board of trustees since 2007, Brother Joseph is currently the assistant provincial for the New York Province of the Christian Brothers in Lincroft, N.J. He is the former principal and president of De LaSalle Collegiate High School, Warren, Mich., where he also served as vice president, guidance counselor and a member of the faculty. Brother Joseph also worked as a school counselor to the Diocese of Orange, California and as a childcare worker, assistant principal and director of development at La Salle School, in the Albany Diocese.

Brother Joseph holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Catholic University, a master’s degree in education/private school administration from the University of San Francisco and a master’s degree in education/mental health from California Lutheran University.

“After several years of responsibility in provincial leadership, I am eager to return to an academic environment,” said Brother Joseph. “Education is, after all, what the real ministry of the Brothers is all about, and I look forward to becoming a part of the Christian Brothers Academy community.

“CBA has a wonderful reputation,” said Brother Joseph. He talked about several of his goals as principal. “The first is to become familiar with the school culture, and that involves a lot of listening. The second is to build upon CBA’s strengths.”

The superior education students receive at CBA fosters their continued academic success. One hundred percent of CBA’s students are accepted at four-year colleges. Much of this is due to a very strong guidance department and parental support.

The guidance staff counsels students individually to help them identify their strengths and talents in order to focus on possible college majors and career choices. Counselors also conduct career units. The counselor gives a brief lecture to the class, administers a survey of the students’ skills and interests, and shows them how to map out potential careers based on those skills.

Career fairs also provide an opportunity for students to explore potential jobs. Professionals are invited to the school to speak to the students about their career and their training.

In his presentation, Brother Joseph cited the reasons why parents send their children to Catholic schools, relaying information from a study that was conducted two years ago. He said that academic excellence, positive discipline of the mind and body and moral and spiritual upbringing are all factors in deciding whether to send a young person to Catholic schools. He assured those in attendance that CBA offers those attributes.

“I invite all you seventh graders and parents to make the most of CBA and to get involved,” said Brother Joseph. “I guarantee you will come back after graduating and say, ‘CBA was one of the best experiences of my life.’”

Junior High Assistant Principal Kathleen Hanson then  gave a Power Point presentation during the orientation detailing a seventh grader’s typical school day. She explained lockers, physical education, schedules, the dress code, clubs and activities and the annual field trip.

After presentations by the directors of campus ministry, athletic department and the student senate, the 7th graders departed to become more familiar with the school.

At the conclusion of the orientation, a reception hosted by the CBA Parents Club was given for those in attendance.

Kathy Battaglia attended the orientation with her son Peter. Attending CBA is a family affair for the Battaglias. It began when Kathy’s husband attended and now all four of their children are enrolled.

Battaglia said they really enjoy the individualized attention that one receives at CBA. “Everyone knows everyone else — you’re not just a number,” said Battaglia. “There’s never a danger of falling through the cracks.”

A graduate of Cathedral Academy at Pompey, Peter seemed happy and relaxed. “I’m looking forward to making new friends,” he said.

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