Naya Enriquez’s accomplishment is among the highlights of what seemed to be a successful year for former St. William Elementary School pupils who made the transition to their new school.
Naya attended St. William from kindergarten through seventh grade, and was never late or absent.
The Lawndale school, though, closed in June 2012 due to dwindling enrollment.
Naya was among 159 pupils from St. William who enrolled at St. Cecilia, located on Rhawn Street in Fox Chase.
“Most of my friends were coming here,” Naya said of her decision.
Most of the other former St. William pupils transferred to Presentation BVM, located in Cheltenham.
As for Naya, she continued to show up at her new school every day and on time. She finished as the only 2013 St. Cecilia graduate with nine years of perfect attendance.
“I like learning,” she said of why she maintained perfect attendance. “I want to be a doctor, so I pay attention at school.”
A potential future dentist or pediatrician, Naya skipped a cousin’s high school graduation one year to keep her record intact, but otherwise was healthy enough to make it to school every day.
“I just had the common cold, nothing too serious,” she said.
Not only did Naya show up for school, she also earned excellent grades of 90 or better.
Sister Jane Mary Carr, IHM, St. Cecilia’s principal, praised Naya’s dedication to school.
“Good attendance supports academic achievement, and Naya placed academics as a priority,” she said. “She’s a good role model for the school community. She works hard academically and is a very fine person.”
When the announcement came in the winter of 2012 that St. William would be closing, the Rev. Charles E. Bonner, pastor at St. Cecilia, rented a bus to bring Naya and the rest of the St. William seventh-graders to St. Cecilia. The pupils toured the school and met the teachers.
“We had a wonderful day together,” Sister Jane said.
The St. William pupils wrote thank you letters to the St. Cecilia community.
“It set a beautiful tone for coming together,” Sister Jane said. “They’ve been a blessing to us.”
St. Cecilia also welcomed some teachers from St. William, but others were left without jobs due to the consolidation.
Naya, a Palmetto Street resident, was able to walk to St. William. This school year, she and some other new St. Cecilia students gathered outside St. William, at the intersection of Argyle and Robbins streets, and were picked up by a bus at 7:38 a.m. to get to St. Cecilia for the 8 a.m. start of classes.
“We were always on time,” she said.
Naya enjoyed her time at St. Cecilia, where she played on the volleyball team. The year included an eighth-grade class trip to New York.
“Everybody was more welcoming than I thought they were going to be,” she said. “We were only here one year, so I didn’t think they would get to know us well, but they showed kindness and generosity getting to know me.”
Toward the end of the school year, Naya and her former St. William classmates got together at their old stomping grounds.
The Rev. Joseph Watson, pastor at St. William, held a reunion for the school’s final seventh-grade class, faculty and administration on June 9.
On the evening of June 12, 104 kids graduated from St. Cecilia during a Mass and awards ceremony.
Naya’s family — parents, Edward and Wanda, and older brothers Eddie and Marcus — is proud of her.
In September, Naya will enroll at Bishop McDevitt in Wyncote, Montgomery County, and she is looking forward to her high school years.
And yes, she plans to finish with perfect attendance for 13 years. ••