Sacred Heart parents hold out hope

The look of sadness comes over one child’s face as she exits Sacred Heart Private School with only a week until the school closes its doors for good. - Photo by Patrick Rocchio

This week, the last graduating class from Sacred Heart Private School will turn their tassels and say goodbye to the school they’ve grown to know and love.

The remainder of the student body will tie up loose ends and conclude their educational journey at the 1651 Zerega Avenue site on June 19, with the final school closure wrapping up at the end of the month.

“There’s a lot of sadness in the school,” Sacred Heart parent Gary Hamilton said.

But even in these difficult and seemingly impossible times, concerned resident Bob Bieder said, “There’s always hope.”

Bieder is one of several Friends of Sacred Heart, a group of supporters who began fighting the closure shortly after the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus surprisingly announced it in early January.

“Our group has continued to meet though we’ve gotten no response from the sisters,” Hamilton said.

Struggling to find ways to raise the $500,000 the Order said is needed to maintain the school for another year, Bieder said Friends of Sacred Heart recently gained a beam of support in Assemblyman Joseph Crowley, whom, along with Councilman Jimmy Vacca is working to obtain the school’s alumni list, an essential piece to any fundraising puzzle.

Bieder said the group is also checking for eminent domain on a piece of property they deem suitable for building a new school.

“We’re just trying to see what other options are out there,” Bieder said, “but it’s hard.”

The group agreed that it’s sad to see the facility, that’s provided the community with 75 years of Catholic education, close its doors for the last time.

“The school still has tremendous success,” Hamilton said, referencing the fourth graders’ state test results that show 94% of the kids exceeded expectations on their science exams.

Though Santa Maria is just down the block at 1510 Zerega Avenue, Hamilton said, “Maybe two out of the 200 kids went down there.” Instead, he said many of the students are relocating to lower Westchester for a comparable quality education.

His own daughter, who’s finishing up fifth grade at Sacred Heart will join a number of friends at Villa Maria Academy next year. While he’s satisfied with this decision, Hamilton said it’s not Sacred Heart. “She’s going to miss a true middle school experience.”

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