One south Bronx school that persevered amid a historic era of societal adversity held a celebration a century in the making.
On Saturday, November 1, St. John Chrysostom School commemorated its 100-year anniversary serving the educational needs of children in the Bronx. Despite the less than favorable weather, Timothy Cardinal Dolan and many members of the community attended the momentous occasion recognizing the school’s centennial.
“St. John Chrysostom has a spirit you don’t find in other places,” explained Sister Mary Elizabeth Mooney, principal. “Our school’s motto is, ‘Excellence in a Non-Violent Atmosphere,’ and it is a very special place providing safety for students of the south Bronx.” “He came into the building and talked to everybody here,” she revealed. “He had pictures taken with all of the students and their parents and he was very friendly to everyone.”
An open house tour was given to all, leading up to a special treat. Following the tour, a street naming ceremony was conducted by Cardinal Dolan. The massive crowd included priests, alumni, students, teachers, faculty and staff, and members of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, the order which founded the school.
The Sisters, whose congregation continues to serve and educate at the school, were honored at this special occasion by having the street outside the school named after their order. It proudly reads, ‘Dominican Sisters of Sparkill Place’ in the street in front of the school.
“We celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the school on Saturday with Cardinal Dolan and other priests as guests,” explained Mooney. “The street was renamed for the order of the sisters who founded this school and have been educating the students of the for a century and continue to do so today.”
Upon the unveiling, 100 balloons were released into the air as the crowd exploded into collective bursts of applause. Following the ceremony’s conclusion, the cardinal celebrated Mass for the congregation and a reception was held inside the school.
“The school and the church were completely packed this Saturday,” she said. “After the Mass, the alumni and members of the community attended a reception in the school hall. In quoting the alumni who visited us during the 100th anniversary, they told me how wonderful these students are and our students have also voiced how proud they are to be here.”
Sister Mooney served as St. John Chrysostom School’s principal for 20 years.
St. John Chrysostom School is located on 1144 Hoe Avenue. In the 1970s and 1980, this street and 167th Street made up the notorious ‘Fort Apache,’ an area known for its violence and charred infrastructure.
However, the school remained resilient during this troubling era, earning it the endearing nickname ‘Little House on the Prairie’ for providing an educational sanctuary free of the surrounding urban decay to neighborhood children.
Currently, 355 students, ranging from grades pre-K through eighth, attend the school. For any additional information and to enroll for admission at this Catholic school, visit www.sjchrysostom.org.
“I am so happy to be working with these wonderful students, teachers and parents,” expressed Sister Mooney. “ I have seen many of the children we taught throughout the years bring their children here to learn. It’s a honor and a privilege.”