St. Hilary School History
St. Hilary Parish was established August 1, 1958, by the late Archbishop Edward F. Hoban. Father Edward H. Horning was named founding Pastor and 325 families formed the nucleus of the new Parish. Ground was broken for the new church-school and rectory by Father Horning and Monsignor Hilary Zwisler, Pastor of St. Sebastian Parish, on June 10, 1959. The church opened and the first mass was offered on Easter Sunday, 1960. On September 5, 1960, St. Hilary School opened its doors for the first time to 261 first through eighth grade students. Sister Mary Rose, O.P., served as the first principal, and four Sisters of St. Dominic and one lay teacher staffed the school.
Throughout the early years of St. Hilary Parish and School, membership gradually rose each year, necessitating additional staffing and space. In June 1965 ground was broken for the present Church, designed to seat 852 people. A school addition, including the present Media Center and four classrooms, was added in 1969. Also at this time, kitchen facilities and a large meeting room were constructed.
The 1970’s saw enrollment rise and hold steady at nearly 450 students each year. Members of the Sisters of St. Dominic, including principals Sr. Mary Charlotte (‘66-74), Sr. Mary Joanne Lamert (‘74-77) and Sr. Mary Conrad Roth (‘77-79) continued to staff the school along with a growing number of lay people. In 1979, Mr. John Antonelli was hired as principal. An additional classroom (room 100), the maintenance office and three additional garages were added to the building in 1980. In 1980, enrollment dropped below 400 for the first time since 1965. A teaching staff of 25 and a 10-person support staff provided a Catholic education for the students. Through the remainder of the 1980’s enrollment slightly increased. Mr. Robert Kochanski served as principal from 1986-1993.
Many changes have taken place in the past two and a half decades. In 1990, Fr. Thomas Koegel broke ground for the Spiritual Center, which adjoins the church and houses a large gathering area, a kitchen, parish office space and six meeting rooms. At the same time, 4 additional classrooms were added to the school. Enrollment topped 500 students for the first time in 1992 and continued to climb in subsequent years. In 1993, Dr. Patricia Nugent was hired as principal. The following year, the position of assistant principal was added to meet the needs of the increasing school population. Mrs. Karen Alestock was hired as the assistant principal.
Recognizing the growth of the parish and the needs of the school, Fr. Gordon Yahner established the St. Hilary Growth Committee in 1994. After extensive research, this committee recommended a three-phase building project. In 1997 enrollment rose above 600. During this year a second floor, housing eight classrooms, a faculty lounge and workroom, and a conference room, was completed. At the same time, the school office area was expanded and remodeled. It now includes an outer waiting area, copy room, three office spaces, and a clinic.
The second phase of the building project concentrated on improvements at the Church. The third phase of the building project included the renovation of a new art room, a science lab, the completion of gymnasium/locker rooms, a meeting room, staff office and a faculty lounge. School enrollment peaked at 726 in the 2004-2005 school year.
Over the years, classrooms and other interior spaces have been repurposed as enrollment and student needs have changed. Several rooms now have multiple functions. Air conditioning was added to the school in 2012. In an effort to maintain vibrant learning spaces for students and a welcoming environment for all who enter the school, some areas have received cosmetic renovations, as well. The media center was remodeled in 2011, the multi-purpose room was modernized in 2016, and the interior main entrance area was updated in 2019. St. Hilary Parish and School continue to be devoted to meeting the needs of families served, and facility maintenance and improvement are always of importance.
In 2007, Fr. Steven Brunovsky took the helm as Pastor of St. Hilary Parish. Mrs. Tracey Arnone was hired as Principal beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, and Mrs. Michele Detore was hired as Assistant Principal that same year. Additional Assistant Principals during Mrs. Arnone’s tenure included Mr. Nathan Baxendale, Mrs. Annie Deemer, and Mrs. Jennifer Woodman.
Today, the school enrollment approaches 520 students in 27 classrooms. A staff of over 70, including teachers, specialists, auxiliary staff, and support staff, is led by Principal Mrs. Jennifer Woodman and Assistant Principal Mrs. Darcy Alexander, both hired to their respective roles in 2018. St. Hilary School is recognized as being one of the top schools in this area and was awarded the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Award as a National School of Excellence in 2001 and 2008. The school also received the Governor’s Thomas Edison Award for Excellence in STEM Education and Research in 2017. A commitment to providing a quality Catholic education, while keeping Christ at the center of every action, is the top priority of St. Hilary School.