At its first public event, the Rumson founders the all-girls school Trinity Hall announced they are engaged in discussions with Middletown officials about potentially opening their school on a site within the township in fall, 2013.
The founders, Victoria Gmelich and Mairead Clifford, made the announcement before 150 people at an International Day of the Girl event held Thursday night at Christian Brothers Academy (CBA).
The event served as a preview for the documentary called 10X10, which highlights the education of 10 girls in 10 developing countries, set to be released this spring.
Parents with daughters ranging in age from preschool through eighth grade filled about half of the CBA theater. Trinity Hall supporters working the event handed out posters that read "Girls + Education =", which the girls filled in with their own ideas: Girls + Education = Life!, Power! Happyness (sic).
At the urging of the founders, the girls poured into the aisles and onto the stage to show off their posters, with messages as varied as their ages and heights: "success, a better life, opportunities, change, power, more leaders," and on they went.
In her address, Gmelich addressed questions regarding the future location of her promised girls-only school.
"We know you need to know where your daughters are going to school," she said. She offered assurance she would have an answer "by the end of the year."
In the meantime, she said, families should apply both to Trinity Hall for the fall 2013-2014 school year and other schools of their choice. She said applications would be available for Trinity Hall candidates in the next few weeks. The application fee will be waived for the first year. (Entrance exams will require a fee).
On the advice of the school's attorney, Gmelich said she could not reveal the exact location of the Middletown site, because negotiations are ongoing.
However, both Gmelich and Clifford said that the school would not be located at CBA's Lincroft campus.
The Middletown site could serve as a temporary location for two or more years, if all goes as planned. "This site checks all the boxes," Gmelich told the audience.
But, she said, in the event that a temporary or permanent school space is not acquired in time, "we have a Plan B." Plan B would be delaying the founding class until 2014, and then including both grades nine and 10.
Previously Patch reported that the Rumson founders were looking at a building at Fort Monmouth in Oceanport. That raised the ire of members of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, which oversees, and closely guards, real estate negotiations of the Army-owned property. In that story, the women also said that they were looking at property in Holmdel.
Sean Clifford, Mairead's husband, who is on the executive board of Trinity Hall, noted that despite that tension, the board has not ruled out the fort.
"We don't want to give the impression that there is only one option," he said.
Some parents and students interviewed at the Day of the Girl Event said they were not concerned that the Trinity Hall had not yet found its location. Debbie McGann of Point Pleasant, who was there with her eighth grade daughter Tyler, became tearful when asked why she wants her daughter to attend Trinity Hall. "My husband went to CBA, and he teaches here," she said. "We know first-hand what single sex education can do for a child."
"What's the quintessensial thing it can offer a student?" she was asked. "Empowerment," said McGann.