2009-11-06 / Letters

Students Should Not Be Used As Pawns

Dear Editor,

The closing of Stella Maris High Sch ool was very depressing news. Luckily, my daughter has already graduated, so I am not a part of the chaos faced by students and parents, who are now forced to make decisions "gun to heads."

Things like this do not happen overnight. WHY freshmen were ac - cept ed for this year puzzles me. En - rollment, being the issue, did not suddenly drop. Were promises that were made by the Sisters of Saint Joseph, broken after one month into the school year?

I have heard that the land was sold. If this is true, were the Sisters awaiting the final closing of the sale before telling parents that this is Stella's final year? I hope not, be cause to use applicants as a back up, in case a real estate transaction goes South, does not sound very Christian to me.

When enrollment shows a steady decline, it is not uncommon to "phase out" a school. That is fiscally sound, yet morally fair in judgment. This, in my opinion, is neither.

Understandably, the finances of the Administration need be a determining factor. Along with that, does come the human aspect, and the inferred commitment that was made in ac - cepting students into a four year program.

Unlike public schools, Stella Maris is not free. Each family paid their fair share, and to them, that money has been literally thrown away. So many other choices of parochial schools are available, yet the penalty for choosing Stella Maris will impose financial hard ship onto many. The silence literally robbed them of their ability to make an informed choice.

Adjustment to other schools ... for the juniors, it is a sin. For sophomores, it is so unfair, as they had just gotten past the initial year of adjustment, and to freshmen, still in that phase, it is inhumane to force them into a move, as they have not yet had the time to find a comfort zone in high school. Just a thought. If this property was sold, would the buyers allow three years to phase out the existing students?

Should the land be slated for building, obtaining permits will take time, if the building is occupied or empty.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph do have wealthy donors. My alma mater, Mary Louis Academy, may have alumnae willing to donate during this period, as I am sure, many of the Stella Maris alumnae would be willing to make contributions. It is not for an infinite time period. The Joseph ites, as well, owe something to their students, students whose parents thought enough of the school to support it.

Members of our community may also be willing to make donations. We do not know, as no one has asked. If, and again, this is a very big IF, the land was sold, provisions for a phasing out period could have been a condition of sale.

Stella Maris has been a landmark in the Rockaways since before I was born. Sad, it will not be closing with the dignity one would have expected from an institution based on the Empowerment of Women. Honesty and Integrity got lost. In the secular realm, that is wrong. In a Religious setting, it defies the Foundation on which this school was built.

KATHLEEN HAYES-LOVOI

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