Over 500 Join in 50th Anniversary Celebrations
Posted on 09/30/2019
The St. Thomas Aquinas / Bishop Ahr High School community came together in one of the largest ways ever in its history on Saturday, September 28 as it celebrated its golden anniversary; 50 years of faith, service, and educational excellence. With anticipation building for months, alumni and former faculty returned from numerous states to partake in a celebration of the place where they got their start.

The day kicked off with an “Open House,” a relaxed and fun-filled morning of reminiscing inside and outside of the school building. Alumni from the 1970s through 2019 returned to see a building that ranged from very similar to completely different from what they remembered as a student. From small changes such as colors, constantly evolving technology, and room assignments to big changes such as the expansive addition that opened in 2005, the state-of-the-art Makerspace that opened in 2017, and the name change that took place just this July. Alumni and their families were also greeted with countless friendly faces in the form of current and retired faculty members, some of whom had come from far and wide to reconnect with their former students. The morning also featured exhibits by each academic department of student work and old photos, mini performances by the drama department of its spring hit Spamalot, a barbeque, and fun and games for children led by the current Student Council. Anna Lawrence of the Class of 1999 said that it was, “overwhelmingly beautiful to see all the different generations coming back. It was a testament to the strength of the STA/BGA community.”

In the afternoon, many alumni stayed while others arrived as the Catanzaro Gym was transformed into church for mass led by the Most Reverend Bishop of Metuchen James Checchio. The mass was brought to life by the breathtaking music of the alumni choir, organized and directed by STA Music Director Mr. Joseph Cullinan ’02. Alumni from as long ago as the 1970’s returned to be a part of STA/BGA’s liturgical music tradition. The opening hymn entitled, “Rightful Place” was befitting of the feeling of warmth and welcome that surrounded the day’s events. Choir member Lee-Ann Marra Chaneski of the second STA graduating class in 1974 said that, “The word that comes to mind is family. I’ve always felt that STA is family. I’m so happy to be with people from my class and the 50 years of STA/BGA.” During the homily, pronounced by Bishop Checchio, he affirmed that STA is known not just for its stellar academics, outstanding creative arts, competitive athletics, and unique spirit. Even more than that it is known for how it lives out the commandment of loving God and loving neighbor. “STA was built for this exact purpose: to serve others.” When asked for his impressions of the day’s events, Bishop Checchio said that he felt that, “an anniversary such as this is a time for thanksgiving, when we can express our gratitude for the gift of St. Thomas Aquinas High School and the blessings it has had for its students because of the immeasurable contributions of its faculty and benefactors.”

Celebrations continued well into the evening with a gala dinner attended by over 400 alumni, family members, faculty, and benefactors. During the gala, 20 alumni, faculty members, and benefactors as well as the Woodbridge Knights of Columbus were recognized with the St. Thomas Aquinas Award in recognition for their selfless contributions to the school and their promotion of the school’s mission. Retired Athletic Director Mr. Mike Wolfthal returned to induct 16 former athletes and coaches into the Athletic Hall of Fame in acknowledgement for their athletic excellence and dedication to teamwork, sportsmanship, and individual betterment. Principal Sr. Donna was taken by surprise as the first recipient of the Trailblazer Award for her over four decades of service to the school. “I remember only the good things,” she said upon receiving the award, “and there have been lots of those memories.”

50th Anniversary Chairperson John Roche ’06 said of the day’s events, “Our 50th anniversary celebration was a wonderful opportunity for our school community–alumni, faculty, staff, students, and families–to come together and celebrate all that makes St. Thomas Aquinas High School what it is. It is events like this one that help us to recommit to the ideals and mission of our school!”

“I would to thank our students, alumni, faculty, and staff for their involvement on this day and throughout the past 50 years,” said Sr. Donna Marie Trukowski, principal. “They are a vital part of the St. Thomas Aquinas High School legacy of faith, knowledge, and success.”
50th Anniversary Family Day

50th Anniversary Mass

50th Anniversary Gala