On the first day of school, 123 members of the senior class at Fontbonne Hall Academy, Bay Ridge, gathered on Shore Road to watch the sun rise. This tradition, known as “senior sunrise,” has special significance this year.
As Mary Ann Spicijaric begins her work as the new principal of Fontbonne and Gilda King assists her as associate principal, it will be the first time that Fontbonne has had two laywomen leading the school.
Building on Fontbonne’s history of educating women of faith and vision, Spicijaric and King are committed to providing their students with the best college preparatory education as they facilitate each student’s development into a professional woman and leader of tomorrow. To that end, they intend to develop additional specialty programs to complement the strong course offerings that the school already has in place.
Spicijaric, an alumna of St. Francis Preparatory School, Fresh Meadows, was part of the Prep’s Science Department for 25 years, serving as chairperson from 2004 until 2013.
Under her leadership, the department grew to offer a three-year sequence of Advanced Placement courses, a unique ninth-grade curriculum called Advanced Physical Science that prepared students for the rigors of higher level chemistry and physics, and the implementation of a nationally recognized Science Research Program that produced Intel Science Talent Search semifinalists in 12 of the past 15 years.
At Fontbonne, the new administrative team hopes to incorporate a STEM curriculum, which will include student-centered programs such as Science Research. In this program, students will work at colleges and universities to carry out original research projects under the supervision and mentorship of professional scientists. Additional Advanced Placement courses and an increased use of technology to help meet the demands of the Common Core State Standards are also in the works.
“When the Sisters of St. Joseph spoke to me about the school’s mission of developing women leaders in a school founded on the congregation’s mission of unity and reconciliation through all-inclusive love, this position as principal was simply a dream come true for me,” said Spicijaric.
Committed to single-sex education for girls, she believes that an all-female student body is an environment where they can find their voices, develop confidences grow into independent, strong, professional women.
“We will be focusing on adding specialty programs in each academic area, and on developing our art and music programs,” she said.
“With these programs in place, coupled with our small class sizes, our girls will truly be getting what I believe to be the best possible college preparatory education.”