Jan. 26, 2020 Staff Report
It started with a dream and, almost a century later, Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy (ICCA) remains a foundational educational institution, reflecting the diversity of the growing Astoria community.
The Nursery through 8th grade school, located at 21-63 29th St., will be hosting a series of open houses from Jan. 26 through Jan. 31 as part of the Annual Catholic Schools week.
Catholic Schools Week 2020 kicks off with an open house on Sunday, Jan. 26, from 11 am – 12:30 pm. This will continue during the week, from Jan. 27-31 with a Daily Morning Mingle from 8:00 am – 8:30 am and open house from 8:30 am – 10:30 am.
This year’s activities will include a Scholastic Book Fair, the Annual Religion Bee, Science Fair, Multicultural Night and an Art for Charity event that will display all the beautiful student artwork that has been taking place in the art studio and classrooms.
New for this year 5th graders will present a Living Museum where they will “come alive” as historical or famous figures, characters, saints, etc.
The open house comes weeks after the school celebrated a milestone 95th Anniversary to reflect on the early pioneers who had a dream for the future and the many dedicated sisters, lay teachers and parish members that guided and shaped the lives of the children of Astoria for many generations.
The anniversary event took place at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows and featured more than 300 guests, including current and former students and administrative staff. Nineteen Holy Union Sisters traveled from across the country to participate.
In her acknowledgement of this momentous occasion, District Attorney of Queens (former Borough President), Melinda Katz, attributed the school’s success to the “great work of its faculty, which for many years included members of the distinguished Holy Union Sisters congregation.”
“As our student population continues to grow and change, we remain committed to providing our students with instructional excellence and individualized attention while promoting intellectual curiosity, personal growth and faith,” said Principal Eileen Harnischfeger.
In 2018, the school opened a dynamic new STEM lab where students have been using state of the art equipment and tools including microscopes, anemometers, spectrophotometers, scales, hot plates, scientific models, construction kits, and so much more!!! This innovative learning environment allows students with various interests and abilities to explore, problem-solve, collaborate, build, create and learn.
This past year, ICCA expanded enrichment programs both during and after school with an emphasis on the Arts giving students several opportunities to explore the wonderful world of music & dramatic arts. In addition to the Paul Effman Band & Violin Program for students in grades three through eight, ukulele lessons were introduced for students in Kindergarten and 1st grade. Parents have the option to pursue after-school piano & voice and guitar lessons.
Another exciting opportunity to engage students’ creativity and imagination is through the school’s continuing Stages on the Sound Performing Arts Program for 4th, 6th and 8th graders. Teaching Artists from Stages on the Sound work with students to create stop-motion animation films, write their own plays to be performed, and act out the works of William Shakespeare.
“This exciting program does something wonderful for students outside of the traditional classroom setting. It inspires a love of the arts, builds students’ confidence & self-esteem, sparks their imagination and allows them to express themselves in a creative and unique way,” said Principal Harnischfeger.
Kindergarten through 4th students started working on and rehearsing for a production of the Wizard of Oz, while middle school students have absorbed themselves in producing a 60’s play titled, Turning Point. Children in all grades perform at the Annual Christmas Show featuring a spectacular annual Nativity play.
The school continuously seeks out refreshing, challenging and exciting opportunities to nourish their students’ talents. To that end, ICCA is the first Catholic elementary/middle school to establish a partnership with the American Debate League and send a debate team into competition against all public schools. In fact, at their first tournament on December 14th, the Queens Middle School Fall Classic, the team placed 4th among Beginner Division schools and produced 3 top speakers in this category!
Executive Director of the American Debate League, Mr. Richard Connelly stated, “ICCA is a great addition to the American Debate League and they accomplished a great feat by having the 4th best school in their division and capturing the 8th and 13th speakers out of over 70 speakers in their first tournament ever. I believe that the ICCA debate team will soon be one of the top debate teams in the American Debate League.”
The team is anticipating their upcoming tournament, the Queens Middle School Winter Classic, on Feb. 1.
“Our goal is to develop and shape our students into passionate, confident, lifelong learners who have competence and strength of character. Every lesson, resource, program and extra-curricular we offer is to help the students realize their aspirations and be prepared to contribute to a diverse and ever changing world,” said Principal Harnischfeger.
Classrooms are equipped with SmartBoards, students have access to Chromebooks, and last year ICCA integrated the online, collaborative world of Google Classroom, which helps students to be organized and engaged in the interactive learning process.
“With the ongoing development and implementation of new technology, Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy challenges students to demonstrate knowledge through innovation and brings the best of what 21st century has to offer into the classroom,” according to Technology teacher, Ms. Theresa Bryant.
“From the youngest to oldest, our Nursery through 8th grade students, are curious about the world around them. It is important to us to feed their curiosity and foster their beliefs in their abilities,” said Karen Allim, Nursery teacher.
Rooted in a tradition of high standards in academics, athletics, and service to others, students are challenged to excel by dedicated teachers and competitive curriculum.
Says Shaun Caruana, father of a PreK student, “As an alum of the school (’96), parent, and current member of the Home Academy Association (HAA), I knew my wife and I made the right choice enrolling our son into ICCA to begin his school career. The staff and administration has shown genuine caring and compassion, all while providing him with a quality education. Every staff member knows our son by name and, by watching his response, we can tell they truly interact with him and his classmates in a meaningful way.”
Looking toward the future, Diane Pisido, Board Member and 95th Anniversary Chairperson, said, “Ninety-five years ago, Astorians fulfilled their dream of building a Catholic school in their expanding community. Our ICCA community continues to build on the dream of these pioneers as we advance the Academy’s mission to provide children of all faiths with a safe and nurturing environment that facilitates a love of learning as well as a love of God, others and self.”
Visit Us During Catholic Schools Week January 26th – January 31st
Come discover the benefits & affordability of a Catholic education at
Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy in Astoria
Where a Lifelong Passion for Learning Begins