As the community came together at M.S. 101 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the sacrifice made by police officer Edward Byrne, a lot of the people who were instrumental in the school’s renaming are sadly, no longer with us.
They include a man all credit with suggesting the idea to name the Throggs Neck school after the young hero cop slain in 1988: Louis Curcio.
Curcio was an elected member of the NYC Board of Education’s School Board 8 and its president at the time. The BOE used to run the city’s school system prior to the implementation of mayoral control and the establishment of the Department of Education.
Curcio did much of the legwork in getting approval from the school board and the district superintendent, Max Messer, to name what was then J.H.S. 101 after Byrne, said his friends and family. Byrne was killed while on duty in Jamaica, Queens.
“I remember my brother spending countless hours working on this,” said John Curcio, Louis’ brother, adding that he was only briefly mentioned at the ceremony at M.S. 101 on Tuesday, February 27 commemorating the 30-year anniversary of Byrne’s heroic death.
John shared a mountain of correspondence and documents with the Bronx Times that chronicled Louis’ assiduous work on the project, serving as a chairman of the Dedication Committee that helped rename the school.
One of a handful of surviving members of the dedication committee, James Vacca, confirmed that Curcio, who passed away in 2012 and was a teacher at Lehman High School, played a key role in the effort.
“Louis felt the (renaming) would send a message to future generations. He was a teacher and he came from that background,” said Vacca. “He was an educator who saw the value of imparting to kids a respect for law enforcement.”
Vacca said that Curcio felt that a curriculum could be developed to make the school’s namesake serve a didactic purpose, and said he believes the former school board president was correct in this assertion.
Curcio also felt that it was a way to memorialize Byrne in perpetuity, said Vacca.
John Curcio said that many of his brother’s friends were detectives and police officers.
“He was born and bred in Pelham Bay and 101 was a neighborhood school,” said his sister-in-law and Dedication Committee member Margaret Curcio, adding that he also served as a board member and president of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association.
Members of the Dedication Committee saw their worked rewarded when the school was renamed on April 27, 1989.
Committee members included its executive assistant Maureen Sheridan, as well as Linda Burke, Joseph Calandruccio, John Collazzi, Curcio, Edward Delatorre, Jean DePesa, Anthony Ferranti, Joseph Henderson, Josephine Hession, Robert Iovino, Michael Kadish, Carl Larsen, Mary Maringione, Joseph McNulty, Messer, Patrick Norberto, Debra Pagnozzi, Joseph Powell, Julia Rodriguez, Anne Schuster, Myron Steinfast, Vincent Tolentino, Kenneth Wilkoff and Vacca.
Byrne’s parents were ceremonial members of the committee.