History & Mission
Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child, Judeo-Christian in heritage, Roman Catholic in teaching and worship, is an independent school for boys and girls in kindergarten through grade 6 and young women in grades 7 through 12. The Oak Knoll community commits to the education and growth of the whole child, as envisioned by Cornelia Connelly, the founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. Engaged in the challenges of the world, the school cultivates a faith commitment that promotes and inspires a joyous personal relationship with God. In a learning climate that is based on trust and reverence for the dignity and uniqueness of each person, Oak Knoll provides an intellectually challenging and creative program of study that fosters excellence in every aspect of school life and prepares our graduates to “meet the wants of the age.” Welcoming a diverse student body, our learning community develops inquisitive students who think critically, embrace knowledge, respond with moral and ethical integrity, and make responsible choices that enrich their own lives and contribute to the lives of others.
As a Holy Child School, we believe:
- God is central in our lives.
- A nurturing educational environment supports the development of mind, body, and spirit.
- A rich and engaging curriculum promotes intellectual and personal growth.
- An open mind leads to a lifetime of learning.
- All voices deserve to be heard and respected.
- Each person has gifts and talents that enrich the community.
- Understanding and appreciating differences lead to the celebration of diversity.
- A cooperative spirit and generous nature are essential to living the Holy Child philosophy.
- Each person is called to work for principles of justice, peace, and compassion in every facet of life.
- With God working in us, we “can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” ~ EPHESIANS 3:20
Decades before its opening, the spirit of Oak Knoll took root in England when Cornelia Connelly founded the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
Six Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus and seven lay teachers crossed the Atlantic to transform Summit’s Larned Estate into Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child. Their dedication to “Simplicity, Humility and Charity” began with the education of 17 children who became Oak Knoll’s “pioneer” students when they entered on September 24, 1924.
After World War II, as enrollment increased and programs developed, new buildings were needed. In 1954, Bonaventura Hall was constructed for the elementary grades, and in 1956, construction on the new Upper School, Connelly Hall, was completed.
Under the direction of a Strategic Plan, Oak Knoll modernizes it’s campus with renovations to Grace Hall, including state-of-the-art science laboratories, evidence of Oak Knoll’s early commitment to women in science.
Renovation and growth characterized the ’90s — the renovation of the Lower School’s Bonaventura Hall Library in 1992; the addition of the Tisdall Hall athletic complex and expansion of the Upper School’s Hope Memorial Library in 1993; the renovation of Grace Hall Chapel in 1994; the completion of the Mother Campion Center for the Performing Arts in 1995; and modernization of the Aileen Maury Dining Hall in 1997.
To ensure the preservation of Oak Knoll’s rich Holy Child heritage for future generations of students, the board of trustees announced the establishment of the Acorn Fund Endowment Campaign. This long-term development effort continues to raise vital funding for Oak Knoll’s endowment, providing the financial reserves necessary to sustain a student body reflective of today’s world.
Building for the future of athletics, Oak Knoll begins to acquire property in Chatham for the development of an athletic complex.
Oak Knoll opens a 13-acre complex in Chatham, affording the school a field house and two multi-purpose playing fields.
From its modest beginnings, Oak Knoll’s current enrollment now exceeds 550 students. Growth and change continue to be evident at Oak Knoll, as the school endeavors to fulfill Cornelia Connelly’s exhortation to “meet the wants of the age.” Cornelia Connelly’s educational philosophy, dedicated to the growth of the whole child “in all learning and all virtues,” has guided Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child throughout its nine decades of existence, providing over 2,000 young women and men with an excellent foundation for lives of achievement, service and fulfillment. In 2012 and 2013, as part of a $12 million Inspiring Action capital campaign, Oak Knoll’s visual and performing arts facilities in both the Lower and Upper schools were renovated, and the Lower School science lab and Upper School science wings were upgraded.