Taking a holistic approach to education, Paramus Catholic High School (PCHS) provides a faith-based coeducational college-preparatory learning environment where students thrive.
The largest private co-educational school in Northern New Jersey, PCHS’s high-quality curriculum includes 141 courses, 33 of which are honors level. Twenty-one additional courses are designed as Advanced Placement.
Setting it apart from other area Catholic schools, PCHS offers unique programs focused on fostering mental, physical, and spiritual wellness.
“As the leader of the school, I understand education can only take hold when the learner feels safe, secure, and content,” said Principal Dr. Stephanie Macaluso. “It is my belief that the maximum potential of each student can only shine through when there is balance with faith, academics, safety, and wellness.”
In keeping with the Student Wellness program, Dr. Macaluso has involved Paramus Catholic students in many aspects of school life. Not only are students invited to be part of the Principal’s Student Impact Team, but students' overall wellness is also boosted by the school's Christmas cards and individual campaigns that use students’ generated art and photography. Having students' work and opinions embraced by school administration helps contribute to a student's overall wellness.
A key component of the school’s Student Wellness program, which was initiated four years ago, is that the entire student body does not have assessments or assignments due on Monday. This allows students the time to recharge and enjoy the weekend with family and offers down time, Dr. Macaluso said.
The school’s Physical Wellness program is evident in the healthy options offered in the cafeteria. Additionally, sports-minded students have an opportunity to compete in the 1,500-seat football stadium carpeted with artificial turf. Regularly irrigated sports fields dedicated to soccer, baseball, and softball and a tennis court covered by a 22,000-square-foot bubble for all-weather capability also are available to athletes.
Each year, the school engages in faith-filled study as part of its Spiritual Wellness program. In past years, school-wide projects focused on the Beatitudes and the Stations of the Cross.
“This school year 2020-2021, we are focusing on the Study of the Rosary,” said Dr. Macaluso. “These studies allow for spiritual awareness and school unity. All programs continue through our hybrid program and virtual instruction.”
These programs allow students to flourish in all areas.
“Since my freshman year at Paramus Catholic, faith, service, academics, and athletics have shaped me into who I am today,” said an upperclassman. “Faith has given me mental strength and has helped me stay strong in difficult times. Service has provided me with a new worldview and has ignited my passion for helping others. Academics has made me more focused and has given me a growth mindset. Athletics has taught me how to be a team player and taught me not to give up. I believe these qualities and characteristics are something I would not have been able to develop without a Paramus Catholic education."
As students enter PCHS, they participate in a Mentoring Program that allows them to feel supported in their “new home.”
“Each incoming freshman is paired with an upperclassman,” Dr. Macaluso said. “Before the school year begins, students connect. In the light of COVID-19, this year, students connected digitally. The freshmen, through this connection, are given a sense of security as they transition to the high school atmosphere. It is a program that helps each student reach his or her maximum potential. Students helping students is powerful and positive. The upperclassmen are always more than willing to help to guide the underclassmen. They feel as if they are welcoming new students into their home. Paramus Catholic students are kind, welcoming, and tolerant. One of our greatest assets is our students and their families.”
Likewise, students treasure the faculty and staff.
"I believe the teachers and staff at Paramus Catholic truly love what they do, and it is exemplified through their work,” an upperclassman stated. “I love Paramus Catholic because the school and everyone in the community has changed me to become a better person than I was when I first arrived."
Due to the pandemic and its unique stressors, Dr. Macaluso established a Wellness Schedule. As wellness is not limited to just the students in the building, this schedule considers the additional stressors for educators. In understanding that time is a most precious commodity for teachers, the first and third Fridays of each month are now designated as wellness days. The academic day is shortened allowing for teachers and students to use this additional time to regroup.
“Overall wellness means that all the members of the school community should be awarded respect and any issue which arises should be handled with dignity, regardless of the consequence,” Dr. Macaluso said.
For more information on Paramus Catholic, visit www.paramuscatholic.com or call 201-445-4466.
— Liz Alterman