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‘It’s a great community’: New principal takes the reins at St. Celestine School

Sheila Klich is taking the reins this year as the new principal at St. Celestine Catholic School in Elmwood Park.

Klich is assuming a role previously held by Jeanine Rocchi, who retired after a career spanning more than 30 years at St. Celestine. Over the summer, Klich worked with Rocchi to ensure a smooth transition. Klich started getting to know St. Celestine and its community.

“The level of community involvement, where everyone is invested in children doing well, is nice to be part of,” she said. “I’ve seen it with the students, parents and staff. It’s a great community.”

Klich acknowledged that this year is a time of change for students of St. Celestine and the former St. Cyprian School and said she and other staff members are working to ease those involved into the transition. River Grove-based St. Cyprian School closed its doors at the end of the last school year and has merged with St. Celestine.

St. Celestine Catholic School has enrolled 449 students, a slight increase from last year’s total of 443. St. Celestine students returned Aug. 20 for their first day of classes.

“I think the change is a lot for families and students, and I’ve made it a point to check in.,” Klich said. “I’m new to the school, as well. We let them know we’re here to help, and that’s helped. We have new students from Chicago Public Schools and other schools. We are making sure everyone feels welcomed and appreciated. We made sure that new students share the same classes to give them someone to bond with. Teachers check in with them, as well.”

Klich spent the last 15 years at Matthias School in Chicago, working during that time as a teacher/assistant principal, assistant principal and principal. Prior to then, she taught at Abbott Elementary and Saint Sylvester schools in Chicago.

“The key to success is listening to different voices, honoring them, and making decisions,” Klich said. “Communication is crucial.”

Klich grew up in Oak Lawn and currently lives in Chicago, with her husband, Mark, and their daughter, Riley. In her spare time, Klich enjoys spending time with family, reading, running and Notre Dame football.

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