NEW MONMOUTH – With well more than half its goal of $1 million raised to keep Mater Dei Prep open for another year, and another month left to attain the goal, members of the Save the Seraphs team are jubilant, confident, and anxiously continuing their work towards meeting the goal.In addition to that fund, another $824,000 has been raised in Save the Seraphs pledges, the $1,000 pledges each year for the next four years, which will kick off the endowment fund school supporters anticipate will keep the high school open, competitive, and viable for the future.“The Seraph’s Fund is on track to hit its $1,000,000 goal,” said Jim Shea, who is heading up the trustees managing the Save the Seraphs fund. “A successful fundraiser on Saturday and an increase in pledging helped us surpass the $500,000 mark over the weekend, ahead of the halfway point in our campaign. We are extremely excited about both our fundraising progress and the plan we are developing for the future of Mater Dei Prep.”In addition to the fundraising activities, leaders of the fund raising program have met with the Catholic Diocese of Trenton Superintendent of Schools, Joann Pier and are now busy setting up a formal plan which would see the 50 year old high school go forward as a 501(c) (3) entity separate from St. Mary’s parish.Within the region, Catholic school tuition is underwritten in one of three ways: either as a parish institution, such Red Bank Catholic which is organized under St. James’ Parish in Red Bank; as a separate non profit such as St. John Vianney High School in Hazlet, or as a private academy such as Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft. Until this time, Mater Dei Prep has been financed similarly to Red Bank Catholic, by the local parish, but attracting students from other parishes in the area.Since its inception, Mater Dei has been organized, built and maintained as a parish school. After last week’s meeting with diocesan officials, the committee working on saving the school is developing a plan, including setting up regulations for a Board of Governors, which would include a board chairman and would have jurisdiction over all the school’s finances and be responsible for all expenses and income. The education at the school would continue to be overseen by a principal. The Endowment Fund being set up through the $1,000 a year for four-year pledges would continue and those funds used for major improvements and other expenses at the school. Tuition would continue to be borne by parents of students in school.Once the local committee finalizes its overall plan, it will once again meet with diocesan officials and seek ultimate approval from the bishop.Meanwhile, trustees of the funds and other volunteers remain amazed and grateful at the outpouring of support for the school, with numerous fund raising events being supported and more planned. This month, there is a Seraphfest Benefit Concert from 4 p.m. top 11 a.m. on Friday, March 13, featuring a number of local and award winning bands and solo performers. A signature event, a Save the Seraphs Gala Dinner and Gift Auction is set for March 21 at 7 p.m. at the Shore Casino in Atlantic Highlands. Gifts at that auction are still being received, but are as varied as boxes of cigars to out-of-state vacations. Tickets for the event are $125.00 per person.A major donation over the weekend came courtesy of the Mater Dei Prep Booster Club’s Pot of Gold Irish Dinner Dance. The event drew a crowd of approximately 350 friends of Mater Dei Prep who enjoyed Irish food and entertainment. The Seraph’s Fund trustee Jim Shaw regaled the partygoers with a bagpipe performance while students from the Jig Factory performed Irish dances. Local band The Shore Thing provided the dancing musicStudents at Mater Dei have also started a One in a Million campaign in which they are asking students in other Catholic schools in New Jersey to donate a dollar and sign their name to a Master Dei Prep shield. The signed shields are being displayed throughout the halls of Mater Dei Prep. Students also designed Save the Seraphs wristbands, which are being sold at $5 each at events. Students made a video with filmmaker Gary Gellman of Gellman Images, who offered to help save the school. That video can be seen at http://youtu.be/q34LRAAvYj4.Other Save the Seraphs fundraising events are planned during the month of March. On Saturday, March 14, MDP young alumni are hosting a 3-on-3-basketball tournament, also in Memorial Hall. Tournament spots are still available and registration begins at 10 am. To participate, email [email protected] interested in keeping abreast of the latest fund raising activities can visit www.savetheserahps.org or e-mail any support to [email protected]–By Muriel J. Smith..