2010-02-12 / Letters

In The Spirit Of Stella Maris

Dear Editor,

The parents of Stella Maris students received a letter this past weekend from Sister Jean Amore, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph, stating there seems to be some confusion and Stella Maris HS is not affiliated with the group trying to keep a Catholic HS on the peninsula, and that this is the reason parents are slow to transfer their daughters to other schools.

In our almost 10 year affiliation with Stella Maris High School, we have never ever received a letter of any sort from Sister Jean or any of the other trustees, either welcoming us or thanking us for enrolling our daughters, not even after the closure announcement was “dropped like a ton of bricks” at the parent meeting did the governing board feel it necessary to address the parents in written form themselves.

Perhaps I can give some insight into the slow to transfer statement posed in the letter, and it has nothing to do with the group trying to keep the school alive. As a parent who has been affected by massive elementary school closures in the past, one has to ask these questions. “Why would I take a chance on another school run by St. Joseph’s if they couldn’t make this one work? Which school will close next? Will my daughter be in this situation again next year? What is the overall financial situation of this governing board?” Parents have a right to ask these questions, will they be answered? If the past “lack of openness” in this closure is any indication, parents have something to be hesitant about in regard to enrolling their daughters elsewhere.

It would not be a stretch of the imagination to say that other high school(s) will close in the coming years, we have seen it on the parochial level. In my opinion, there is only one all girls high school governed by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Queens that is under no threat of closing, due to her prestigious status, all else are expendable. This must be a prevalent thought in a parent’s mind.

As for the affiliation question. Whether the Sisters or the Stella Maris administration likes it or not, the group is certainly “affiliated,” in the sense of spirit that they are the “girls of Stella Maris,” past and present (I am very proud to be the mother of three graduates and presently a senior). Empowered by the education received at your hands to take on leadership roles and with this campaign they are doing just that. They are doing exactly what you have taught them to do for over 66 years. Stand up and be leaders.

They want to save the spirit of their school, foremost they want to save their community. Why is there an air of hostility towards them? Why has there been an attempt to chastise and put them in the dunce corner before the remaining parent body? They are not students any longer, they are parents, business and community leaders, lifelong residents and are doing what should be done for their community. They deserve to be embraced in this campaign, not insulted or curtly dismissed. Both the governing board and present administration should be proud of this group, they embody the spirit of Stella Maris, the past and present student bodies, decades separating some of them in age, yet they have come together in this campaign to keep a catholic high school on the peninsula. This should be applauded and supported by every single person who can somehow attach themselves to the legacy of Stella Maris High School.

It is my hope that the Stella Maris Leadership Academy will open, the Rockaway community needs a high school now more than ever. Make this academy a reality for your community and for your children. One thing is for sure, no one affiliated with the campaign group to keep a school in your area and by extension the spirit of Stella Maris alive will ever have to ask themselves the questions that to this day remain unanswered by the Sisters and administration, the first one being; “What exactly did you try to do to save Stella Maris – you said you tried everything.” I wish I could produce something ... anything that would make that statement a fact. I cannot.

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