St. Vincent Principal Brings Fresh Perspective to Post

A Wheeling native plans to build on established traditions and implement fresh ideas as the new principal of St. Vincent de Paul Parish School on Key Avenue in Wheeling.

Arica Holt was hired by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in June and already has begun working on several parent- and student-friendly projects for the new school year, including a five-day hot lunch program, an after-school program and an all-day preschool option for 4-year-olds.

“I thing these are things that will definitely benefit parents and the hectic schedules they have,” said Holt.

She also is moving the computer lab, which is located up the street at the St. John’s Home, to an empty classroom at the school, to better serve both students and teachers; and, she has a goal of putting a Smart Board in every classroom. The school has seven, and Holt said it would take $30,000 to buy 10 more Smart Boards to meet the goal.

“I’m looking forward to bringing energy and enthusiasm to a place that has enormous potential,” said Holt, who served as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher at St. Michael Parish School in Wheeling for five years.

Curricula changes include adding electives for junior high students and offering algebra for eighth-graders.

Holt plans to continue many of the 96-year-old school’s traditions. The annual science fair, social studies fair and spelling bee will carry on. Traditional fund raisers will continue: the steak fry is set for Sept. 20 and the Greenback Dinner and Sweepstakes will be March 7.

In addition to having a new principal, the St. Vincent parish also has a new priest, the Rev. James McGoldrick, who will continue the tradition of teaching the students Latin, Holt said. McGoldrick replaces the Rev. James LaCrosse, who retired this summer. Holt replaces Sister Kathleen McCauley who is now working for the Sisters of Charity in Greensburg, Pa.

“As a practicing Roman Catholic, I know the importance of tradition in Catholic education and will continue to ensure that the students of St. Vincent de Paul receive an education befitting the high academic, moral and religious values that this parish and school community have exemplified for many years,” Holt wrote in a letter to parents and parishioners.

Holt received a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a minor in early childhood development from Marshall University. The 1997 Wheeling Park High School graduate earned a master’s degree in education/education administration from Salem International University earlier this year.

In addition to her experience at St. Michael, Holt worked as a cheerleading coach at Wheeling Central Catholic High School for eight years and at Wheeling Jesuit University for two years.

“Involvement in Catholic schools’ sports programs has raised my awareness of the need to incorporate Catholic ideals in all school-related activities,” she said.

Holt said she feels today’s students need to find a safe haven at school, a place where they can talk about the chaotic world around them in the context of their faith.

A practicing Roman Catholic, Holt is married to Scott Holt, a former St. Michael teacher and current head football coach at St. John’s Central Catholic High School in Bellaire. They have a 6-1/2-month-old daughter, Taylin, and live in Wheeling.

Enrollment is open to all children age 3 through eighth grade, regardless of residence and faith. Financial assistance is available.

An open house for all new students will take place from 7-8 p.m. July 31 in the school gymnasium. For information, call Karla Gaus, development director, 304-242-0434 or 304-242-5844.