“Strong Faith, Strong Foundation, Strong Future.”
That’s the motto of Nashua’s Infant Jesus School, which has been in existence for 110 years now.
Talk about rich roots here in the Gate City. The private Catholic school, located at 3 Crown St. in the community’s Crown Hill neighborhood, has been quietly educating young people from pre-kindergarten through 6th grade in its classic method of a structured academic environment with the strength of Christian beliefs.
I enjoyed speaking with Principal Kelly Veilleux and Office/Development Assistant Diane Duffy about Infant Jesus School and learning more about this treasured institution.
Both women are proud of their school being the recent recipient of a $30,000 grant from the Saint John Neumann Education Trust. The trust was established in 2017 for the advancement of Catholic education in the state as well as providing financial assistance to students desiring a Catholic education.
“It opens the doors to students here and helps make a Catholic education more accessible, “ says Veilleux of the trust fund honor.
There are currently 76 students enrolled at Infant Jesus School, and although that seems rather light, it’s not unusual for Catholic schools across the United States where enrollment has declined from its peak in the 1960s. Still, Catholic schools continue to play a prominent role in the U.S. education system as more children of different faiths and backgrounds add a distinctive diversity to their classrooms.
Veilleux says there is an advantage because smaller class sizes mean more “one-on-one attention” for each pupil. Both women emphasize the Catholic education’s concept of “teaching the whole child,” which prepares the student academically with a balance of extra-curricular activities, religious instruction, community service and promoting love, dignity and respect for others.
“We lay down a strong foundation with social and emotional learning,” Duffy says.
“We’re also a safe community here; we don’t have a lot of behavioral issues,” Veilleux adds.
The Wall Street Journal took a look at “The Catholic School Difference” in an opinion piece last June, citing a study that shows the benefit of demanding self-discipline from students. The research was conducted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The study found that “children in Catholic schools are less disruptive and have more self-control than their peers in non-Catholic or public schools.”
Infant Jesus School casts a pretty wide net when enrolling students. Not only does it have students from the Gate City, but it also has had students from places like Bedford as well as communities in Massachusetts.
The school promotes giving back, and these young pupils are involved with the Corpus Christi Food Pantry and Assistance that serves the working hungry and homeless here in Nashua. They also pay visits to Nashua Crossings senior living residence as prayer buddies and perform in a variety of other outreach programs across the area.
The school provides a well-balanced curriculum where children can also have fun in chorus, band, learning the violin, athletics, the drama club and in You Be The Chemist Challenge. Students here excel when they graduate, with most achieving top placement in testing.
Infant Jesus School “is about old school, accountability, hard work, in a faith-filled, family atmosphere,” Principal Veilleux wrote in one of her monthly blogs.
If you are interested in private Catholic school education and enrollment, Infant Jesus School opens its doors to school tours, and you can request a private tour by calling them at 603-889-2649. You can also visit the IJS website at www.ijschool.org/.
Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.