By KARLA SOCCI SOMERS AND DIANE BEAL, Special to the Bulletin | Published March 23, 2017
LILBURN—On Feb. 11, St. John Neumann Regional School in Lilburn celebrated its 30-year anniversary with a “Cheers to 30 Years” gala. Alumni, faculty, staff, parents of current and past students and sponsors attended the dinner, which included dancing, and an auction at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse in Lawrenceville.
The highlight of the evening occurred when founding principal and guest of honor, Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart Sister Dawn Gear, spoke to the some 180 guests gathered for the celebration.
“We were very blessed,” she said, noting that the school would not be celebrating 30 years if it weren’t for the involvement of so many. She urged those in attendance to continue supporting Catholic education for future generations.
The hard work of Sister Dawn and the late Sister Rita Raffaele, GNSH, was rewarded in 1994 when the U.S. Department of Education named the school a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. In 1996 Sister Dawn received both the National Catholic Educational Association’s regional Distinguished Principal Award and the National Distinguished Principal Award of the U.S. Department of Education.
At the gala, Sister Dawn was introduced by Father Christopher Monturo, who worked for her as a custodian when he was a youngster and is now a pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, West Harrison, New York.
After a standing ovation, and a champagne toast by current principal Alex Porto, he and Sister Dawn were each surprised with a basket filled with personal thank you notes from students, alumni, faculty, staff and parents of current and past students.
“I am overwhelmed with the magnitude of your compliments and gratitude,” Sister Dawn told the crowd. “You thank me, but I really have to thank all of you.”
St. John Neumann Regional School is located at 791 Tom Smith Road, Lilburn.