Stella Maris In Drive To Keep School Open
An ad-hoc group of Rockaway residents, many of them alumni of the school, have started a long and expensive road to keep the school open as a co-educational “Stella Maris Leadership Academy.” “In October of 2009, the Rockaway community was shocked by the announcement that Stella Maris High School would close its doors after 66 years,” a spokesperson for the group said. “To say that this is a tragedy is an understatement.” The group announced last week that it has set up an endowment and hopes to raise $4 million by March 15. That endowment has been set up through the existing Al and Peggy DeMatteis Family Foundation, which will accept donations on behalf of the Stella Maris Leadership academy, the spokesperson said. After asking for responses on a web site that the organization set up, they decided to make the program co-ed, although the school’s new mission statement says, “The school will operate in a hybrid fashion, maintaining certain aspects of a same-sex school coupled with the benefits of a mixed population.” It adds that “The academy will be funded in large part through a non-profit organization created in honor of Colleen Dwyer Flesor, class of ’81, whose sole purpose is to raise money; support and provide the investment necessary to excel in education through technology and teachers; investment in the arts and athletics and to keep the spirit of Stella Maris alive in the same location it has been in since 1943.”
Given the success of the fundraising effort, the group will rent the current school building from the Sisters of St. Joseph, the order that owns the building and ran the school for so many years. The group also plans a gala fundraiser at Russo’s On the Bay in Howard Beach, but no date has yet been set for that event.