photography by ALISON DUNLAP
“OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP CATHOLIC SCHOOL ENABLES STUDENTS TO CELEBRATE THEIR GOD-GIVEN TALENTS BY SERVING OTHERS IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST AND GROWING INTO LIFE-LONG LEARNERS.” And every day the teachers and faculty at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) work diligently to provide an excellent education with that very mission statement at the forefront of their minds.
Principal Carl Jankowski says the school, which educates children from pre-K 3-year-old through eighth grade, is committed to academic excellence. Continuing to challenge its students, OLPH provides an education through the application of problem solving, hands-on learning, cooperative learning, as well as traditional textbook learning.
In addition to academic excellence, students at OLPH practice their faith-citizenship service to others.
“At OLPH, we enable students to celebrate their God-given talent by serving others in the spirit of Christ and we live that aspect of our mission every day,” says Jankowski. “Inherently, we are called to serve and not to be served. We demonstrate this through our commitment to Mission Support, which is a diocesan-led campaign that supports missionary work here in the U.S. and around the world.”
Jankowski says OLPH participates locally in the Feed 5,000 campaign that is led by their second-graders. School-wide, the students collect non-perishable items and donate them to the Maple Shade Food Bank in the spring when the food bank is at its lowest point in the year.
“We look to instill leadership in an early age and empower our children to know that they have the capability to make a difference by understanding social justice and recognizing their calling to serve others,” says Jankowski. “We empower them to take on leadership roles to solve problems. We encourage our students to use their voice at a young age because as Christian leaders, we are called to act in social justice all the time.”
And like any great school, OLPH has dedicated families who keep coming back year after year with new generations of students.
“We are a family unit, the school and the church were built by the community, and it’s a pillar in the community,” says Jankowski. “It is a tradition that families pass down because of the Christ-centered environment that we have and because when you walk through the doors at OLPH, you really are coming home.”
For Jennifer Coleman’s two daughters who attend OLPH, she says there was never a question that her children would go anywhere else. Being third-generation students and fourth-generation parishioners, Coleman says both the school and church are important to her family.
“It’s a great school even for parents,” says Coleman. “It’s just so easy and the community goes beyond the administration and the teachers. I feel that it is with the parents as well which you don’t get in a huge comprehensive school.”
Erin O’Connor, a parent of two current OLPH students and one graduate, shares Coleman’s sentiment. “We live in Maple Shade not too far from the school, maybe a half mile if that. Both my husband and I grew up having a Catholic education and we knew we wanted that for our children as well,” says O’Connor. “When we moved to Maple Shade we took a look at one of the open houses at OLPH. We liked the small school, family feel of it all so ultimately that’s why we decided to go there.”
The tagline OLPH has is “The difference is inside.” Jankowski says it doesn’t just speak for the walls of the building, but inside the hearts of their students. As faculty and a school family, they model that love and nature and offer their emotional support to their students to make them feel safe and happy to be at school.
“It’s the balance between the joy of coming to school, a rigorous academic program, but it’s totally embracing the spiritual aspect of caring for our neighbors and looking out for our friends,” says Jankowski. “That’s for Christians or non-Christians because we have quite a population of non-Christians at OLPH. We really do welcome all to the school to participate and experience our educational journey.”
Our Lady of Perpetual Help School
236 E. Main St. |Maple Shade
(856) 779-7526 | OLPHParish.com