Oak Knoll unveils student-designed stained-glass window display

By James McEvoy
More than a year’s worth of work by Oak Knoll alumna and artist Christina Nguyen ’18 culminated Tuesday when the school officially unveiled a beautiful stained-glass display she designed to greet worshipers entering the Upper School chapel.
The roughly 6-by-8-foot, three-panel depiction of the Holy Child being held by the Virgin Mary was blessed by Father Scott Pontes, academic dean of religion at Oratory Prep, during a ceremony January 8, 2019, that included faculty, staff and administrators, as well as Nguyen’s family and some of her classmates from the Class of 2018.

“We want to thank Christina for her incredible work of art and her gift that she shared with all of us and that she’s going to share with generations of Oak Knoll families,” said Head of School Timothy J. Saburn, who also thanked special benefactors Mary Ellen Dundon, alumna and Board of Trustee member, and the late Gail Reinheimer ’59, who left a bequest to the school.

Creative Arts Chair Will Cardell, who first approached Nguyen during the spring of 2017 to design the stained-glass display, also lauded her and the fruits of her labors.

“The project is an extraordinary and unparalleled one as the school has never engaged a student in such an undertaking – one that would be typically offered to a professional,” Cardell said. “But, as we are a school that believes in investing in the talents of our very capable students, the decision to give Christina this special assignment was embraced enthusiastically by the entire community.”


In addition to her artistic talent, Cardell called Nguyen his most humble artist.

“Even though there were some demanding moments in the journey, this creative endeavor was one of the most memorable in my lifetime,” he said. “I want to thank Christina, the administration and Oak Knoll for this awesome experience.”

Nguyen,
of Watchung, currently a freshman at the University of Notre Dame, thanked her family for their support and for sending her to Oak Knoll where she received a faith-based education.

“Thank you to everyone who supported this project ever since that first meeting when I showed up with just three little sketches,” Nguyen said.

She also thanked her former teacher, Cardell, and Princeton-based artisan Zach Green, who translated her work from paper to glass.

“Thank you for believing in me since day one and for giving me this opportunity,” she said to Cardell. “Thank you for guiding me through this process and throughout my entire time at Oak Knoll.”

During the summer of 2017, Nguyen proposed three potential designs depicting the Nativity, the journey to Egypt and the Holy Child image for consideration for the stained-glass window.

The design, which originally incorporated two angels, was altered to include St. Francis of Assisi, an influential figure to Venerable Cornelia Connelly, Holy Child founder.

With the inclusion of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, Nguyen added a dove and two cardinals, with the latter birds representing the living blood of Christ. Rays in the sky also incorporate the school’s colors.
 
Once the design was approved, she worked diligently on designing the depiction until Green took over and transformed it into glass over the course of the summer and early fall in 2018, with the glass display being formally installed on Friday, January 4, 2019, just before the school returned from its winter break.
 
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Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child is a Catholic independent school coeducational from kindergarten to grade 6 and all girls in grades 7 to 12. Oak Knoll was founded in 1924 and is one of 10 schools in the Holy Child Network of Schools that provides independent Catholic education across the United States.

OAK KNOLL SCHOOL OF THE HOLY CHILD

44 Blackburn Road
Summit, NJ 07901
Phone: (908) 522-8100
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