Holy Cross Catholic Church and School 60th Anniversary Newsletter - September
Holy Cross 60
Hello Holy Cross community!
Welcome to the September edition of the 60
We invite you to visit
to view past newsletters from this year of celebration!
Thank you for being a part of this wonderful faith-filled community. We hope you have a wonderful September and a great school year for all of our parents, students, faculty and staff headed back to the classroom!
Father Robert Buchmeier, Pastor
Mrs. Lisa Kane, Principal
Mrs. Megan Harbold, 60
We Want Your Photos!
The Holy Cross 60th Anniversary Committee is looking for photos from the far or recent past, to share as a part of celebrating the 60th anniversary of our church and school.
Please email photos to
in highest resolution and if possible, please identify
is in the photo,
the occasion was,
the photo was taken. Thank you!
Anniversary Cookbooks…Coming This Fall!
Starting in October, the 60
Anniversary Cookbooks will be for sale. Pricing and delivery dates will be coming in the following weeks.
A big thank you to everyone who submitted a recipe – we can’t wait to share these with the community!
Special thank you to Emilia Grove, school parent and parishioner, who has collected all the recipes that have been sent in and is working hard to assemble the cookbook for us all to enjoy!
Get to Know You Parishioner: Angela Kuan and Family Interview
By Kate Oczypok
Angela Kuan and her husband Nelson are first generation immigrants from Taiwan and Korea. They first found themselves at Holy Cross a little over seven years ago, in August of 2014. Their oldest son began kindergarten at Holy Cross School that year.
Holy Cross was “warm and welcoming from the beginning,” Angela said. “One memorable story was a birthday party for Father Robert where he invited all the children to help him blow out his candle, which was in the form of a giant flower.”
When the candle was lit, it looked like a huge bonfire on top of the cake. Angela said nothing could be more exciting for the children there and her own children still talk about the memory today.
The Kuans attend Mass at various times, due to their son being an altar server and having availability any time he’s needed. They love the diverse range of musical talent across the different Mass times.
Over the years, Angela said she has been honored to serve in numerous school and church groups. Eucharistic Adoration changed her life, as she was able to spend those hours with Jesus. For those interested in Eucharistic Adoration, it is offered every Friday from 3-6 p.m. in the Quinn Hall Chapel. (If you’d like to be a regular adorer, contact Barbara Ruppert at 301-933-7646.)
“Holy Cross is the parish for us because we have met our best friends who have become family there,” Angela said. “It is the safe haven that allows our children to discern God’s will for their lives.”
The Kuans hope that Holy Cross continues to carry on its tradition of sharing courage and love to all who take refuge within.
Get to know your fellow parishioners will continue as a regular monthly feature past the anniversary celebrations. If you or someone you know would like to be featured, email Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
History collected by MaryAnn and Karen Crespy
With contributions from the Sisters of the Holy Cross; former Holy Cross School teachers, administrators, and families; and Christine Zalewski, Director of Admissions and Development at Holy Cross School
Holy Cross Elementary School Open Its Doors for the 60th Year
In the design of God, every person is called upon to develop and fulfill themselves, for every life is a vocation. At birth everyone is granted a set of aptitudes and qualities for them to bring to fruition. Their coming to maturity, which will be the result of education received from the environment and personal efforts, will allow each person to direct themselves toward the destiny intended for them by their Creator. Pope Paul VI
On Thursday, September 7, 1961, Holy Cross Elementary School opened its doors for the very first time to mark the first day of classes at brand-new Holy Cross Elementary School. And, on Tuesday August 31, 2021, 60 years later, those doors opened once again for the first day of classes.
It is mind boggling to think of the changes that have taken place over the past 60 years. However, one thing hadn’t changed, and that is that quality education is still the hallmark of the Holy Cross School’s dedicated faculty and staff. This month we hope to bring back the nostalgia of 1961 and merge it with the reality of 2021. Please enjoy the trip as it unfolds.
Holy Cross is truly a parish school and has been deeply tied to its parishioners for six decades. The school opened with 4 classes in the building: kindergarten and grades 1, 2, and 3. Three Holy Cross Sisters and two lay teachers welcomed the children to the new school. Sister Julia Marie Jacomet CSC was the principal, Ms. Carman Schmitt taught kindergarten, Sister Mary Pius
Schreiner CSC taught 1
grade, Sr. Agnes Mary Jones CSC taught 2
grade, and Ms. Jeanne Mitchelle was the 3
The school building held one classroom per grade, a health room, an office for the school secretary and the principal’s office, a small faculty room, a fully equippedkitchen, and rest rooms. The Social Hall (Lewis Hall) served as the lunchroom, basketball court, meeting space, and auditorium for plays and parish events. Each subsequent year,
one grade was added as each class advanced. And by September 1965 there were Kindergarten through 8
grade. In June 1966 the original 3
graders were in the 8
grade and ready to become the first graduating class.
On a sunny June day, 43 boys and girls received their diplomas from Holy Cross Elementary School during Mass at Holy Cross Church.
Over the year, Sisters of the Holy Cross taught various grades and were principals. And while today, the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who donated 12 acres for the parish and school campus, are no longer physically present in the classrooms, their legacy is well represented by the men and women who staff the school. These educators continue to espouse faith, scholarship, and service as their guiding principles, and endeavor to nurture the spirit as well as the mind.
The original school mascot was a Crusader, and sports teams were known as the Holy Cross Chargers, and school colors were green and white. In more recent years the mascot was changed to the Hawk; however, the school colors remain green and white.
60 years later, changes and improvements to the physical school and the curriculum are evident. The comparison might be #2 pencils to Chromebooks and tablets. Begun with the classes of 1961, Holy Cross Elementary School continues to have one class per
grade, but now serves children in Pre-Kindergarten for three- and four-year-olds through Eighth Grade. The teacher ratio is 1:7, vastly different from the 1:43 of the original 8th grade! Today, the average class size is twenty-five students per grade.
The first uniforms for girls were a Stewart Hunting Tartan Plaid jumpers (lower grades) and skirts (middle school) with a white peter pan collar blouse and a navy blue or hunter green sweater; and the boys wore navy blue slacks and a white shirt with a blue neck tie. Dark shoes or saddle shoes were required. While the jumper
and skirt plaid have stayed the same, over the years the uniform has offered more options. Students wore red polo shirts in the early 2000s. Today, students wear white polo shirts with the Holy Cross logo in the Fall and Spring and boys wear striped ties with white button-down shirts in the winter. Starting in the 2021 school year, boys have the option of wearing a bow tie with their winter uniform. Hunter green fleeces, sweaters, and sweater vest are now available. In addition, the school has a spirit wear store that sells high-quality branded items for the whole family.
Because children grow so fast, some parent volunteers began a “uniform exchange program” whereby gently used skirts and jumpers could be exchanged for a better fitting uniform. Strangely, there was no exchange for the boys’ slacks. Perhaps because they were seldom gently used! The uniform exchange continues to help families outfit their children.
In the 1970s parents in nearby parishes without an elementary school began to enroll their children at Holy Cross. As the word spread, requests for out-of-parish children to attend prompted a rule that children of the parish had preference over a child from outside the parish. Today the breakdown of students is 1/3 Catholic, 1/3 out-of-parish Catholic, 1/3 non-Catholic.
By 1966 Holy Cross had a school bus and the driver was Mr. Ellie Dove (read more about him later in this article). Since most of the students lived within walking distance of school, many walked or rode bicycles to and from school. The boys and girls in the neighborhood were friends with students at Garrett Park School so they all walked to school together.
Crossing guards from both schools were stationed at streets along the route and the county provided a
crossing guard to safely guide the children across heavily travelled Strathmore Avenue in the morning and afternoon. The Holy Cross school bus picked up children who lived more than one mile away. In 2021, the 6th grade safety patrols are still at their posts every day just as they have always been, and also escort younger students from the car drop-off into school.
Today, students come to Holy Cross Elementary from near and far which means most of the children are driven to and from school each day. To accommodate youngsters arriving and leaving at different times, Holy Cross offers supervised study and activities before and after school until 6 p.m.
Over the years, the school has offered a variety of extracurricular activities including beginning and advanced bands, The Morning News group, Technology Club, the Yearbook Staff, the Newspaper Club, The History Club, Youth Group, Safety Patrol, Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts. Students today have a wide variety of activities to
choose from, including CYO athletics (basketball, soccer, cross country, and track and field), fine arts, civic and academic endeavors, chess club, and participating in plays and musicals which provide something for everyone to get involved.
HOLY CROSS ELEMENTARY’S MISSION
In 1965, the original Home and School Association issued what would now be called a “mission statement”:
“Through the Home and School Association, parents and teachers seek to acquire a greater appreciation of the ideals of Catholic education and to promote a clearer understanding of the Ideals of Catholic education and to promote a clearer understanding of their mutual educational responsibilities. They aim to bring high scholastic achievement to the youngsters in our parish grade school.” It further stated that all projects and activities undertaken for the youngsters by the Association, including health, recreational, and cultural are conducted and chaperoned by the parents.
The current Home and School Association statement reads: “The Holy Cross Home and School Association is comprised of all school parents. The HSA leadership organizes community-building social events along with various fundraisers. The HSA collaborates with the parish to host a Back-To-School Picnic. Other HSA community events include Breakfast with St. Nicholas, Father-Daughter Dance, and the Spring Gala. The HSA hosts quarterly meetings for the parent community.”
The Holy Cross School Mission Statement in 2021 says: “The mission of Holy Cross School is to provide a faith-filled, rigorous academic environment where students are inspired to become compassionate, competent, and faith-centered leaders now and for future generations.”
Holy Cross School has an Advisory Board that assists the school administration with strategic planning and leads committees including facilities, marketing, and our annual fund. The pastor is the chief administrator of the school and advisory board; and the rest of the board consists of the principal, one teacher and eight at large members, primarily from the school parent community.
WHAT MAKES HOLY CROSS SCHOOL UNIQUE
Holy Cross School is an award-winning faith community built on Catholic Tradition and serves an internationally diverse, co-ed student body in Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade. The school is fully accredited by Cognia and is a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. In addition, Holy Cross holds membership in the National Catholic Education Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the International Society for Technology in Education.
The school has had 12 principals in its 60 years, as well as numerous talented and dedicated men and women who taught students and prepared them to meet the challenges of high school, and life. No matter how many years they were at Holy Cross, they created indelible memories for their students and helped shape and educate young lives by investing their time and energy into all who who passed through the doors of Holy Cross year after year.
And let us not forget the school administration staff who served teachers and students in so many ways. We salute all those faculty and administrators who have supported students on their journey at Holy Cross School.
Since 2009, Holy Cross has been led by Mrs. Lisa Kane and a staff of amazing teachers, aids, support staff, custodians, and a school full of bright students. Our school focuses on the growth of the whole child including social, emotional, spiritual, and academic development. Students receive personal attention in a warm, caring, and safe environment. Holy Cross has high expectations and rigorous academics and strives to meet the needs of all learners.
While pencils and notebooks, blackboards and chalk and erasers, and desks in neat rows have evolved into Chromebooks and tablets, interactive smartboards, and adjustable desk configurations, the individualized attention and high school prep focus in middle school has kept students
engaged and succeeding academically, socially, and spiritually for the past 60 years.
Over the many years, as education and teaching practices have developed and advanced, so have the programs and curriculum at Holy Cross. The basics of reading, writing, math, social studies,
English, and science are still staples of education and are enhanced with resource and learning skills programs. Those programs have also advanced to meet the needs and technology of today’s student.
In the 1970s and 80s, students supplemented reading with a self-directed program that was widely used in grade schools called SRA (Science Research Associates) Reading Laboratory. This program had color-coded reading materials according to reading ability level. The materials were arranged in a box holding approximately 31,000 folded cards that were divided into folders of various colors to corresponded
to reading levels. On each card was a story plus questions about the story. If the student read through all the stories in one level, and passed the question-tests along the way, they then moved up to the next color level. This program emphasized the role of the student in directing their own learning and assessing their own skills as they worked their way up through the levels.
The physical box may have become an online folder, and the program might not be SRA anymore, but Holy Cross continues to find the best support programs and academic enhancements for each subject in each grade. The curriculum is further enriched by offering art, physical education, music, Spanish, library skills, and technology classes.
The school community is very much like an extended family. And together they take great pride in every achievement—in the classroom, on the field, on the stage, or in the gallery.
100% of Holy Cross graduates are accepted into Catholic high schools and many are awarded scholarships for academics, debate, performing arts, or fine arts. For example, the class of 2020 earned over $350,000 in academic scholarships and were accepted at The Academy of the Holy Cross, DeMatha, Georgetown Prep,
In fact, to celebrate Father Robert’s birthday in 2019, the students raised $625.55 for the Wounded Warrior Project in his honor.
Georgetown Visitation, Good Counsel, Gonzaga, Holy Child, IB/Magnet Programs in MCPS, The Madeira School, St John’s, Sidwell Friends, and Stone Ridge.
A giving and compassionate community, students have regular service projects. For example, in 2020 students packaged over 1,000 meals for Cup O Joe, an organization servicing the homeless in DC; and lower school students also made cards for Eliana’s Light, an organization that supports families with children who have complex medical conditions.
Giving has made its mark on the students of Holy Cross. Past gifts from graduating classes have included a trophy case and basketball hoops for the blacktop. You can see a recent gift when you visit the field and see the cool green bench with a plaque that reads “Enjoy this gift from the Class of 2019 to Holy Cross School”
A quote from a current school parent: “I wanted more than a school for my daughter. I wanted a community that would help shape her character. I found it at Holy Cross where she learns the value of friendship, faith, and service every day – all the while earning a Blue Ribbon School education. We truly love this school!
The following is a timeline of selected highlights for Holy Cross:
1990 Rock Creek Council Knights of Columbus honored Eight educators and named Jeanne Behrend, 1st Grade teacher at Holy Cross, as Outstanding Teacher of the Year (center holding plaque)
1991 Rock Creek Council Knights of Columbus honored Liz Troy as Outstanding Teacher of the Year
2008-2010 Lewis Hall Renovation
2013 Holy Cross was named an Exemplary High Performing Blue Ribbon School
2014 New hardscape school and church signage completed, led by the School Advisory Board
2015 18 students selected to welcome Pope Francis at the Nunziture during his historic Washington, D.C. visit
2015 Cool and Cozy Campaign (led by the School Advisory Board) to replace school windows, renovate main office and modernize the entrance area and foyer. Father Robert Buchmeier was assigned pastor of Holy Cross Parish when this project was in progress.
2018 The Pre-Kindergarten program expands to add a class for three-year-olds in addition to the PK4 class
2019 Investment in campus-wide security systems and cameras
March 2020 Pivot from on-campus to full distance learning within one school day due to COVID-19 pandemic
2020-2021 Safely and successfully re-opened school and offered families the choice of on-campus or distance learning
2021 Holy Cross continues its tradition of recognition by the Catholic Business Network with four eighth grade students awarded high school scholarships through the CBN Essay contest
“We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart. While we prepare useful citizens for society, we shall likewise do our utmost to prepare citizens for heaven.” Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC
Learn more about Holy Cross School by visiting our website at
and by following the school on
. In addition, you can view the school’s amazing virtual tour
. This was created in May 2020 and made possible by the generosity of Dave Goulding, an Emmy-award winning Director of Photography. Mr. Goulding is the parent of two Holy Cross School alumni and generously donated his time and talent to collaborate with school staff on this project. The virtual tour has been instrumental in supporting our admissions efforts!
Tuition assistance is based on financial need and may be available through the Archdiocese of Washington Tuition Assistance, as well as through the
Financial Assistance for Catholic Education, Inc. (FACE). In addition, Holy Cross has the Kevin McManus Scholarship Fund. This was established in 1997 to honor Kevin McManus, father of John and Ellen McManus, following his sudden and untimely death. Funds are used to offer tuition assistance to Holy Cross students in need of financial help.
Religion is taught in every grade. Children are prepared to receive their sacraments in the 2nd grade and 8th grade as outlined in the August edition of the 60th Anniversary Newsletter. From 1st grade through 5th grade all subjects are taught in the home room and then middle school students (6th, 7th, and 8th grade) change classes for English and Science instruction. In the early years of the school, the sisters and lay teachers taught religion in their home room, and periodically the pastor or assistant pastor would come to the classroom to speak with the children.
Then, and now, there are all-school Masses. While the schedule has changed over the years, today students celebrate Mass as a school community every other week. There is a school Mass at 8:30 a.m. Mass on the First Friday of each month. Students sit with their class in the front of the church and regular morning Mass attendees are seated behind the students. Student altar servers rotate so each one will serve at a school Mass. Grades take turns leading Mass where students in that class read the epistle, response, and petitions for that day. Some of the younger children are so little they stand on a stool to be seen and heard.
But, with loud, clear voices they do the job perfectly. Some of the youngsters are very confident speaking in front of their peers and those “old people” sitting in the back of the church. Other children are less confident and seem to be happy when they are finished. Regardless, it is a joy for their parents who are often seen beaming with pride, and maybe even taking a picture. The pastor speaks with the children during the homily, often engaging them in discussion while walking up and down the main aisle so he reaches them all.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, during the years when guitars accompanied hymns during mass, Sister Judith Pittam CSC and later Mrs. Pat Hosinski taught guitar lessons and formed a group of students to play at the school Mass. Today, the mixed school choir is accompanied by their director at the electric piano.
For the majority of the past 60 years, students brought their lunch to school and ate at long tables in Lewis Hall. The 8
grade manned the ice cream cooler and sold ice cream bars, nutty buddies, and Italian ice. There were two shifts: 1
grade ate together, then 5
grades ate—recess followed lunch. Sometimes a class would sponsor a bake sale as a fundraiser. Those class members would bring in cakes or cookies from home to be sold at lunch time. Room mothers volunteered to help on such occasions. Periodically, there would be a personal pizza or hot dog day. Since the children carried their lunch to school, it was a real treat when “hot lunch” day came around.
Lunch time at Holy Cross lasted about an hour. After the students finished eating in Lewis Hall, they went outside for recess on the blacktop and field. Each day a different pair of volunteer mothers, alphabetically paired, would act as Playground Monitors for the children. What fun the students had on the swings, playing hopscotch and 4-square, jumping rope,
shooting basketball, and playing tag! The older students organized games of Red Rover, kick ball, baseball, or the forbidden British Bulldog (tackle run across), or just sat under a tree chatting with friends. One lunch-time mom, Mrs. Hranicky, who the children called the “bubble lady,” entertained the smaller children by blowing bubbles that they would then try to catch.
Fast forward to 2021 and students now have the option to bring their lunch from home or order hot lunch supplied by the school’s lunch vendor. Students still enjoy fresh air and our beautiful campus with outdoor recess after their lunch period.
Holy Cross School volunteer opportunities were plentiful and before moms returned to the work force in large numbers, there was little problem building a list of women able to give a few hours in the morning or afternoon. Beyond Playground Monitors, volunteers were needed to assist with supplementary programs for reading and listening skills, academic and occupational support, help with a school safety program, act as chaperones for field trips and school dances, and then there were the two Room Mothers for each grade, among many other activities.
From about the 3rd grade to around the 6th grade, students participated in Controlled Reading. This program aimed to improve reading for comprehension. Students were encouraged to keep their heads still and read with their eyes as single lines of text from a story were projected in sequence on a wall or screen. Students were in groups according to their reading level. A quiz was taken after the story to test comprehension. Over time, as a student’s reading skills improved the speed was increased incrementally. This speed-reading-comprehension exercise benefited students greatly.
In addition to the Controlled Reader program, 1st and 2nd graders participated in a listening skills program, students referred to it as “headphones”. Small groups of students wore headphones to listen to a story and then answer questions at the end of each session. Volunteer mothers assisted with this program, too.
As mentioned, most classes had two Room Mothers to assist the teacher as needed, with class-related activities such as field trips, class parties, the Halloween costume parade, and celebrate Halloween, Christmas, Valentine Day, etc.
On Halloween the students would visit the retired Holy Cross sisters at Saint Angela Hall. What a treat that was for the students and sisters! The sisters loved seeing the happy children all dressed up like everything from princesses and pirates to hobos and superheroes. After visiting, there was a parade from
the school to Flanders Avenue where parents and neighbors could see the children, and some teachers, in their Halloween finery before they returned to their classrooms for a party. In the late 1970s a local television station filmed this little parade and it made the evening news.
With so many children walking to and from school, Holy Cross and Garrett Park students were educated about the Block Mother program. Volunteer moms, who were home when children would be going to and
from school, put a placard in their front window to indicate they were home and available to help any child cope with emergencies—anything from a bathroom break to being locked out of the house, children had a safe place to go. It was common to see these signs in windows throughout the neighborhood.
For a while, Holy Cross had a school safety program. Montgomery County Police Officer Clark would periodically visit the school and talk to students about keeping safe when walking or riding bikes in the neighborhood, how to handle being approached by strangers, and was a positive police connection for students. Mary Ann Crespy was the “Safety Lady” one year and, in conjunctions with neighbor Joan Boswell and Officer Clark, organized a bike rodeo for Garrett Park and Holy Cross students. Students were able to register their bikes with the county and those who wanted to ride their bikes to school went through a bike course showing that they understood the rules of the road and hand signals. Passing the rodeo earned them the privilege of biking to school!
Volunteering was and is a wonderful way to help the school and build friendships with the other parents. A win-win situation.
MRS. ELIZABETH TROY—MOTHER, LIBRARIAN, EDUCATOR
One woman with a huge impact on Holy Cross School was Mrs. Elizabeth Troy (deceased). Liz Troy graduated from Catholic University of America with a master’s degree in Library Science and a certificate in Special Education. She and her husband Tom were parishioners and parents of eight children. When they moved into the parish and their children were enrolled at Holy Cross School, she
realized there was no library. Eventually, she was given permission to establish a school library in the lower level of the convent (Quinn Hall). She single-handedly built the school library from scratch. At the same time, she recognized the need to help children with learning difficulties. And so, in the late 1960s, she gathered a team of women to help her address this issue.
Carol Dunne, who joined the group a few years later and then taught 3
grade at Holy Cross for 30 years, and Joan McNiff were both teachers; Nancy Domenici was a physical therapist, and Liz Doring was very knowledgeable about how to help children with various learning differences.
The Learning Skills Program worked closely with teachers and parents to identify areas that needed focus. It was usually one-on-one. For example, if a child seemed to have difficulty with early reading or writing skills, one of the ladies would work with that child. This was always done in a positive and encouraging manner to enable the student to develop confidence.
Often a child would need physical exercises to facilitate coordination and balance. Small muscle exercises helped develop writing skills and coordination helped with everything from riding a bike to participating in physical education classes.
In addition to attending symposiums and classes, Liz Troy read constantly to keep abreast of techniques that would help the children.
The Learning Skills Program women worked four mornings a week, and between themselves discussed what they were doing with students and shared ideas on how to better serve the children.
In the afternoons Liz Troy worked in the library. She held library classes for each grade and also allowed students to come into the library during recess to check out books. Some just wanted to read or talk. It was a safe haven for many. Over the years other women continued to help students and Mrs. Troy was involved with all aspects of the program until her retirement.
Despite all she had accomplished, there was one last mission: Liz Troy created and implemented the after-school Homework Help Program for struggling students. She and her volunteers donated their time and talents to assist students with their daily homework assignments. The strategies she shared helped students for many years.
Liz received many letters of thanks from those she helped, but perhaps the most poignant was from a child who had returned to her native Poland after being a student at Holy Cross. In June 1989 she wrote (complete with her spellings):
“Dear Mrs. Troy,
I’m feeling so sorry, that I can’t bring Holy Cross School with all the teachers and students to Poland. I had have here, in the U.S. a wonderfoul year, and often I will come back in my memory to that time. I will miss you correcting my -ings, -ds, -eds, and muols. I will miss you saying the phrase “W-e s-p-e-e-k-i-n-g s—l—o—w—l—y.” I will often think of you, especially when my mother will make me resay things slower (this unfortunately happens too often). I am so, so, so… gratefoul to you for all the things that you have done for me, especially the patience that you had in traying to understand and correct my fast and broken English. I wish you would know hew much it helped me. I wish you a wonderfoul and joyfool life, and if by miracle you will come to be in Poland don’t forget to visit me. Love, Ewa”
In 1991, the Rock Creek Council Knights of Columbus saluted Liz Troy along with other outstanding teachers of the year. She was a truly remarkable woman.
From the late 1960s onward, middle school students have presented science projects for judging. Participation in the science fair was required for all students — an early STEM effort. There are no records available of the early school years’ achievements; however, the winning projects in elementary school were, and continue to be, entered into competition with other Montgomery
County elementary schools.
The school science fair has been held every year, and it is worth noting that in 2021 Holy Cross continued its tradition of excellence at the “Science Montgomery Fair” with students earning top awards and prizes.
The Spring Musicals were a special event for 7
graders. Once a show was selected, the narration and score were procured from whatever publishing company had rights to that show. In addition to a director, there needed to be somebody to teach dancing and singing, and someone to take charge of costumes.
Some of the musicals put on by the school in the 1970s and 1980s were: “Mary Poppins”, “Happy Birthday America 1776 (200 Years of Dance and Song)” directed by school mother Ann Jones who had appeared in Oklahoma on Broadway, “An Evening with the Music Man”, “Oliver”, “Bye Bye Birdie”, “Little Mary Sunshine”, "A Broadway
Review” directed by former student Katie Troy, among others. What wonderful memories. Being part of the musical brought together the shy and the not-so-shy in a joint effort to entertain fellow students, parents, and friends. Parents were crucial to their success because they directed the building of the sets; borrowed, designed, and made the costumes; plus, they assured their child that they could get up and sing, speak, and dance in front of an audience.
In the 1970s the school was blessed to have parents Pat Abernethy (deceased) and Betty McCormick (deceased) who performed in community theater and Bunny Fegan (deceased) who was the perfect producer. These women were also part of the Holy Cross Players, a
community theater group which you can read more about in the December newsletter issue. Together they set an excellent example for the children. A mother would volunteer to be the main costumer and either give direction of what to wear or made costumes. The parish had some talented musicians, and they volunteered their time to accompany the singing and dancing. A mainstay was Mr. Martin Reilly,
who played the piano for each performance for many years. The Holy Cross Players loaned their lighting equipment and microphones to the school which made the shows even better. It is wonderful to report that spring musicals continue at Holy Cross with rave reviews of recent productions of Willy Wonka, Peter Pan, and Annie.
CLASS FIELD TRIPS
Being located outside Washington, DC and in an area full of history, field trips were looked forward to each year with trips to Smithsonian Museums and Art Galleries, the White House, the Supreme Court, the Zoo, Basilica of Immaculate Conception, the Franciscan Monastery, the Trolley Car Museum, the Chesapeake Bay, and more.
In years past, the 8
grade raised money to take a special trip—oftentimes to King’s Dominion amusement park.
The reward for studying Civics was the 8th grade visited the U.S. Capitol with a photographer on hand to take their picture in front of the Capitol. This Capitol trip continues today!
In the late 1970s, one 8
grade class took their daytrip to the Delaware shore for fun in the sun and sand. This time the parents of the students willingly went along to chaperone! Students and parents talked about it for years afterward…it must have been fun!
remarks published in the Annual Giving Report 1997-1998 on the occasion of the completion and blessing of McAllister Library and new Kindergarten.
“When I became pastor of Holy Cross Church on July 2, 1983, my first visit to the school made it abundantly clear that the school was in danger of closing. The enrollment was less than 200, and the financial responsibility of the parish was significant. The urgency of the situation was bought to the attention of Archbishop Hickey who took it upon himself to come to Holy Cross to see for himself what could be done. With his support, the support of the Catholic Schools Office, a new course was set for Holy Cross School.
In the Spring of 1984, Sister Miriam was assigned to Holy Cross as the principal. Sister began immediately to put things in order to re-invigorate the school. A kindergarten was opened very shortly after her arrival, and an aggressive recruitment of students was soon underway. Within a relatively short time we began to see changes taking place, and the numbers increasing.
Within a relatively short time we began to see changes taking place, and the numbers increasing.
The school under Sister Miriam’s leadership has received the Middle Atlantic Accreditation twice during her 14 years. A computer room was constructed as well as a permanent kindergarten room.
Not inclined to stop with this important, but modest addition, Sister Miriam began to talk about a new library, art room, and Pre-K. The dream became a reality and on September 16, 1998, Cardinal Hickey returned to Holy Cross School to bless the new addition and dedicate the library to the memory of Monsignor Joseph B. McAllister.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our Cardinal for his enthusiastic support of Catholic schools, and to Sister Miriam for the skill and love that has given life to Holy Cross School”.
Sister Miriam Regina Brosnan’s
remarks published in the Annual Giving Report 1997-1998 on the occasion of the completion and blessing of McAllister Library and new Kindergarten.
“Thank you for your support of the First Annual Giving Fund. I find myself in awe of the beautiful facility that we have been able to build due to the help and generosity of all those listed on the following pages. Because of your unselfish giving, yet another one of my dreams has been fulfilled! For many years I had hoped we could move the library from the basement of the convent to an accessible, brighter, and larger facility.
This new addition started out as an idea more than five years ago. Partners in Education developed a 5-year development plan that started with the renovation of the science room. They then took on the emerging needs of the school. Their development plan quickly aligned with my vision of having a Pre-K,
art room, and library. But development plans and vision only materialize through hard work of the entire school and parish community.
Words can never express the gratefulness I feel to such a vibrant, dedicated community.
Books are a special gift that we give our children, and they now can come and enjoy them in the bright and joyous
library. My hope is that we will all work to enhance this collection. Nothing, not even technology, can replace the beauty of books. My dream is that this library will continue to grow. I encourage both parents of the current school as well as parishioners to remember special occasions (such as children’s birthday, or important days in your family’s or children’s lives) with a donation of a book in your name or your child’s name.
Today my dream is a reality because of the hard work of so many. To each of you, I will remain forever grateful. God bless you!”
We thank and are indebted to the family of Monsignor McAllister for allowing us to use that part of his estate, initially directed to the enhancement to the grounds of Holy Cross for the Library. In memory of him and all the spiritual knowledge that he left with us that knew him so well, we have named this new library the “Monsignor McAllister Library”. There is a wall in the McAllister Library covered with bricks on which are the names of donors to the building fund.
Notes and tapes from his sermons and special prayer sessions are housed there for all in the parish and school to use.
A special donation was made by the Charles Delmar Foundation which provided a grant for the tables and chairs in the Monsignor McAllister Library. And the Patricia and John Grady Philanthropic Fund made their most
generous contribution to the school that was directed to the building campaign in Jack Grady’s name.
This entire wing of Holy Cross is now known as the Sister Miriam Center and houses the PreK classrooms, McAllister Library, and Technology Center.
In the late 1990s Montgomery County was eliminating a number of portable classrooms that they had used to alleviate over-crowding in the public school system and used as temporary classrooms when schools were being remodeled. Monsignor Gatto arranged to purchase one of these portable classrooms and
placed it between Quinn Hall and the school. Water lines and electricity were installed to this dark brown wood structure with steps onto small porch. It has served many purposes over the years and is now the Music and Art Cabin for all students to enjoy.
Today the main building houses Kindergarten through 8
grade classrooms, a resource center, and school counselor’s office.
On Sunday, January 31, 2010, Holy Cross parishioners gathered to celebrate the opening of the renovated and expanded school hall. Pastor Monsignor Hill and principal Lisa Kane led the festivities with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Social Hall was known as such from 1961 until 1984 when it was rededicated in the memory of Reverend Monsignor Robert E. Lewis, Holy Cross’ second pastor. Father Lewis arrived at Holy Cross in 1968 and was reassigned in 1983, he subsequently died later that year.
A cross was hung in Lewis Hall with a dedication plaque that read “Lewis Hall, dedicated in memory of the Reverend Monsignor Robert E. Lewis Pastor of Holy Cross Parish 1968-1983 on the Feast of the Holy Cross September 14, 1984.”
In late 2008 structural defects were discovered in the roof and one wall of the multi-purpose facility. This facility, so vital to the daily operations of Holy Cross, was immediately braced and taken out of service. Further structural investigations concluded that the roof and the damaged wall would need to be removed and reconstructed thus
creating an unexpected and economically daunting challenge for the Holy Cross community. Despite the challenge, the Holy Cross community rose to the occasion and seized the opportunity to not only repair Lewis Hall but expand and renovate it. Unfortunately, the cross and dedication plaque, removed during construction, have been lost. Maybe a parish prayer to St. Anthony will help them turn up!
A Lewis Hall Building Committee was formed comprised of school parents and parish members, led by chairman Mario Silva and architect and project manager, Tom Striegel. Davis Buckley Architects and Planners was engaged by Holy Cross Parish and the Archdiocese of Washington to provide full architectural services for the design of the Lewis Hall repairs and renovations. These included state-of-the-art improvements and upgrades making Lewis Hall a more flexible and functional space for school, parish, and community activities.
Lewis Hall has been expanded and can now serve as a full-size basketball practice gym and volleyball court. A multi-purpose floor, retractable backboards and stage, a
movable room divider and storage rooms were incorporated into the design. In addition, the project included a complete renovation and transformation of the Lewis Hall warming kitchen into a fully functional commercial kitchen for school and parish events.
The project was approached with the utmost attention to creating a flexible space that is energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Green features include the significant use of recycled and salvaged materials, the
use of low VOC paints, and the installation of new insulation and energy efficient lighting and appliances in the renovated adjoining kitchen.
The Lewis Hall project costs were approximately $665,000. The project was funded through a variety of fundraising endeavors including season ticket raffle to the then Redskin football games and appeals with school parents and parish members. There are several plaques on display in Lewis Hall noting special contributions by parishioners and school families.
Most notably the Holy Cross school children raised more than $20,000 towards the renovation project by holding a Race for Education! The Holy Cross community is very proud of its significant achievement in repairing and renovating Lewis Hall and will enjoy the results of this collaborative effort for many years to come.
KEEPING HOLY CROSS RUNNING
In every organization there are those who quietly work in the background and who are essential to the everyday peace and comfort of a place. At Holy Cross, Mr. Ellie Dove and Mr. Don Thompson were the facilities management team and fixers of all things. Mr. Dove also was the school bus driver, mower of the vast expanse of grass, cleaner of the church and the school, snow shoveler, and generally keeper of the campus—making sure it was neat and clean for many years before the parish hired professional landscapers to do this job.
MR. ELBERT M. DOVE, SR.
may have been short in stature, but he was a BIG man at Holy Cross. He was the first Facilities Maintenance Engineer for Holy Cross Church and he did everything. A parishioner, he and his wife Margaret, and son Pat lived in Garrett Park across from what is now Black Market Grill. He went home for lunch every day and picked up the parish’s mail from the Garrett Park Post Office. Ellie Dove was a mild-mannered man who was liked and respected by everyone. He enjoyed a good cigar, so a class of 8th graders in the late 1970s proudly presented Mr. Dove with a cigar when he drove them on a field trip and had to wait around for them to return to school. Mr. Dove died in December 1991. He never retired.
grew up in Kensington and as a young fellow told his parents that one day he was going to work at that new church and school being built on Strathmore Avenue. And he did, from the 1960s until retirement in the early 2000s. He and Mr. Dove were the two most important people around. The children liked Mr. Don. He was tall, a giant to the little ones, and he would give them rides by holding their hands and letting them stand on the toes of his big steel-toed work shoes while he walked around.
came on board after Mr. Dove died. He remained at Holy Cross Church for several years before moving out of the area.
, Manager, Facilities Maintenance, escaped suppression in El Salvador where he was an accountant. Raul and his wife have three grown children and three grandchildren. When he first arrived in Maryland, he first worked at St. Michael’s Parish in Silver Spring, then moved to St. Raphael’s Parish in Potomac. In 2004, he joined the Facilities Maintenance Staff at Holy Cross Parish. He has been a familiar face for the last 17 years, 6 of which he has been seen cruising around campus in a golf cart. Raul is in charge of sub-contractors, i.e., plumbers, painters, electricians, and anyone hired to do work for the parish. He also oversees the nighttime staff that clean the school.
Raul is a sincere man who readily shares how very happy he is to be working at Holy Cross Parish. He likes the people with whom he interacts, he feels comfortable in the friendly atmosphere, and he is pleased with the respect and appreciation shown for his work. Raul says the parish has been very good to him and his family and he plans to stay for a long time.
, Assistant, Facilities Maintenance, is from El Salvador. Danilo has been working at Holy Cross Parish for 7 years. Among his duties are vacuuming the church and Quinn Hall, cleaning the marble flooring in the sanctuary, fixing whatever is broken, replacing burned out vigil lights, keeping the rest rooms clean, and the list goes on. It seems there is always something that needs attention on this parish campus with four large buildings.
Exaltation of the Holy Cross
by Deacon Robert Hubbard
Early in the Fourth Century, Saint Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the Holy Places of Christ’s life. She razed the second century temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior’s tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher on that spot.
During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman. The cross immediately became the object of veneration.
To this day, we celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the Basilica’s dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. The cross, today, is the universal image of Christian belief.
Thank you for celebrating Holy Cross Catholic Church and School's
anniversary with us!
Volume 8, September 2021
Mary Anne Gadbois
on Wednesday, September 1 at 3:00PM