Members of the Van Nest community will rally on Thursday, December 2 to tell the Archdiocese of New York that they believe St. Dominic School is a community asset worth saving.
The rally will begin at 7 p.m. at St. Dominic Church at 1739 Unionport Road, between Morris Park and Van Nest avenues. It will include a candlelight vigil through the streets of lower Morris Park and Van Nest to the school gym, several blocks away at 1684 White Plains Road and Van Nest Avenue. It will include parents, students, teachers, community leaders, and parishioners of Our Lady of Solace-St. Dominic parish.
Kathy Canzoniero was one of several teachers who have helped to organize the rally. The teachers have partnered with members of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance and other community leaders to make the rally and march a success.
“We are the only school at this end of Van Nest and Morris Park and we are considered an inner city school,” said Canzoniero, a first grade teacher. “To close St. Dominic School would deprive these families of a Catholic education because many cannot afford the tuition at nearby Catholic schools. We are not giving up, we are going to fight to the end, and we are doing what we have to in order to keep the school open.”
Canzoniero said that the Archdiocese of New York’s decision to label the school “at risk,” and cut off central office funding past this school year, came as something of a surprise because they thought that the school was holding its own, with an enrollment of more than 200 students.
Community leader Joe Bombace said that he feels that the school is a vital community resource, and the community would lose a lot if it were to close.
“The Archdiocese wants to know about the school’s involvement in the community, and they certainly are a staple of Van Nest community,” Bombace said. “They open up the school to host Community Board 11 committee meetings, public hearings, community organizations, and for voting. The nuns who run the school attend meetings of community organizations like the Morris Park Alliance, Morris Park Community Association, and the school has its own PTA and school board committee.”
St. Dominic school board member and longtime community resident and businesswoman Camille DeVitto said that the school is such an inviting place and that the children who attend St. Dominic seem happy and content.
“The school and parish have been a big part of my life,” DeVitto said.
As of press time, the Archdiocese did not respond to a request for comment on the rally.