With the Archdiocese of New York looking to close St. Dominic School, students, parents, teachers and alumni took to the streets tto keep it open.
On Thursday, December 2, about 200 Van Nest residents and St. Dominic families gathered at St. Dominic Church before marching in a defiant display of support and solidarity along Morris Park Avenue and White Plains Road to the school.
Those that came brought signs and candles, and chanted “save our school” as they marched.
“There comes a time when you have to stop talking and start walking,” Joe Thompson, a member of Community Board 11, told the crowd that gathered in the school’s gymnasium after the march.
Recently the archdiocese put St. Dominic School, along with five other Bronx Catholic schools, on a list of facilities that will no longer receive funding from the diocese. Officials estimate that, if the diocese cuts the funds, the school will have a $350,000 deficit.
“I do not believe that they made this decision lightly,” said father Robert Badillo. “But we’re here tonight because we have hope.”
While the school’s future is in jeopardy, so far, nothing is set in stone.
The diocese asked all the schools on the list to present a plan outlining how the school plans to right its finances within the next five years.
School officials said they have submitted their plan, but declined to give specifics, although many have previously discussed plans to lease out some space in the school.
“It’s an amazing school and I can’t believe it’s come to this,” said Cindy Santiago, who marched with her husband Jimmy, and her daughter Sabrina, a fourth-grader.
“If it closes, what’s left for them?” Santiago said.
Councilman Jimmy Vacca and Senator Jeff Klein, along with several representatives and other community leaders pledged their support for the school and promised to do everything in their power to keep the facility from closing.
“Our children deserve the best education possible and St. Dominic has been doing that for years,” said John Fratta, district manager of CB 11.
“The Van Nest community is alive and well today. Everything is starting to fall into place here. We can’t allow this school to close. It is the heart and should of the Van Nest community.”
For six-graders Jenalee Jones and Nicole Orta, closing the school would mean separating from the friends and family they have grown to love.
“The school is like a family,” Orta said. “These doors are always open for everybody.”
“My mom has no idea where I would go if the school closes,” Jones said.