2009-11-27 / Top Stories

Stella Maris Property Not For Sale

Sisters Want To Keep It An Educational Institution
By Howard Schwach

Stella Maris will soon close, but a group of local residents and alumni want to keep it open as a Catholic school for girls. Stella Maris will soon close, but a group of local residents and alumni want to keep it open as a Catholic school for girls. Despite all the rumors to the contrary that are swirling around the peninsula, the Sisters of St. Joseph, the order that owns and runs Stella Maris High School, are not planning to sell the beachfront site for high-rise condos or anything else.

After meeting with two representatives of the Sisters, Rockaway resident Theresa McCann, the spokesperson for "Operation: Save Flipper," the group attempting to save the school, told The Wave that they are not interested in selling the building to anybody.

"They are not going to sell the building and are even thinking of moving more of the Sisters into the convent," McCann said. "They are interested in keeping the property as an educational institution and will consider all offers to lease the building. They made it clear, McCann added, that the order has no interest in staying involved with the school.

One of the rumors about the building was that it would be leased to the New York City Department of Education to house the Scholars' Academy, the Region Five gifted school that is now crowded into the former Junior High School 180 on Beach Channel Drive at Beach 104 Street.

A DOE spokesperson denied the rumor, stating that the agency has no plans to lease the high school building, despite the fact that it wants to add a high school component and has little space to do so.

Operation: Save Flipper has posited a new role for the soon-to-be-abandoned girl's high school.

"We asked the Sisters if the group could execute a plan to create a Stella Maris Leadership Academy, an independent Catholic high school empowering young women of the future."

She said that her sense from the meeting was that the Sisters don't believe that the group is capable of generating the kind of money necessary to make that plan work.

The group is actively looking for a "Catholic philanthropist" who would be willing to support the plan.

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