The Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation (BEOF) has unveiled a new logo and potential name for the former Holy Family Academy at 239 Avenue A.
The new name of the school, which would be a part of the Head Start program, was proposed as Stepping Stone Academy of South Hudson. The logo is a cartoon depiction of three different children stepping on a gem stone. BEOF Director Samantha Howard presented the final drafts of the logo and name to the board of the BEOF for approval.
“The three children are standing and representing our children,” Howard said. “Because our children are some of our most precious commodities, they’re on gemstones. Gemstones, synonymous with stepping stones, highlights exactly what we are trying to do with our new location with our program.”
Behind the name
The board voted to approve the new logo for the school at its Annual Public Meeting on Dec. 15. However, it tabled voting on the name after apprehension by some board members.
The issue among many board members was the term South Hudson, which many felt may be confusing. According to Howard, South Hudson represents not only Bayonne but can also include Jersey City.
“When studying and researching this, we learned that we did not have to just provide Head Start service to just Bayonne,” Howard said.
“Head Start did recommend that as well, because this will help us to add more grant money and more services outside of Bayonne,” said Chief Financial Officer of the BEOF, Anthony Segarra. “They know that Bayonne is a part of Hudson County and they would like to see that, as far as the applications are concerned, and give us more opportunities to provide more services.”
Board member Diane Liming said: “Does the South Hudson have to be there? I think that’s very confusing.” According to Howard, the school needs an identifier because Stepping Stone Academy is a common name.
Liming countered that if it was under the BEOF, it should be the Stepping Stone Academy of Bayonne, not South Hudson. In response, Howard said that Head Start speaks to more than just Bayonne and provides an opportunity to grow.
Liming was still not convinced: “We get local businesses to support us because we are the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation. Now we’re saying that we’re a county business.” Howard said that the BEOF would still be a Bayonne business, despite the naming convention that would allow the inclusion of Jersey City.
Board member Sue Sweeney pointed out it may be interfere with funding through the school district.
“It’ll be a little confusing if the children are enrolled in our program from out-of-district because that ties into another district funding that child to go to school there,” Sweeney said. “For a child to be serviced that is school age, it’s a little confusing if it’s not just Bayonne.”
Board member Tony Timpanaro added that they may have to talk to the Bayonne Board of Education. In response to the questions and concerns about the name, Howard suggested it be tabled and worked on, to which the board agreed. Meanwhile, the board liked the logo and agreed that it was “cute,” voting unanimously to approve it.
According to Howard, the renovations at the former Holy Family Academy school that must occur before Stepping Stone Academy can open are in progress: “The location is currently under construction. They are there doing the renovations, part of the demolition. We are currently in contract and moving forward with this project.”
The project underwent many trials and tribulations before finally awarding a $2.1 million contract and getting things underway.
“We worked our way to this point under much inflation,” Howard said. “Also, there was controversy when it comes to trying to get a contractor for the building and the bids coming in way higher than what the building was actually worth. Head Start realized that pre-COVID grant funding was not sufficient but is now working with us, spending the money that we have as well as allocating additional dollars to complete this. As of Monday of this week, the Stepping Stone Academy is currently under construction with the demolition taking place as we speak.”
And as those renovations occur, the BEOF continues to look for funding sources for the necessary renovations to the former Holy Family convent so that it can relocate its headquarters there.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.