Final Bell Tolls as Ascension Closes Doors After 112 Years

The school’s closing was announced as part of a sweeping shutdown of 12 schools across the Catholic Archdiocese of New York back in February, but its closing still hit parents and students hard as they exited the UWS school for a final time.

| 19 Jun 2023 | 01:57

Parents, children, and teachers left Ascension School with boxes in hand on Friday, June 16th following a final assembly.

After 112 years, the Roman Catholic elementary and middle school — which has been a mainstay on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for generations — closed its doors for the last time.

In February, the Archdiocese of New York announced that the school — along with eleven additional Catholic elementary schools across the city — would be closing their doors for good in June. The Archdiocese attributed the closures to “shifting demographics and lower enrollment made worse by the pandemic,” according to its statement. That did not make the last day any easier for students, teachers or parents.

A father, alongside his teary-eyed daughter — who had attended the school since she was 3-years-old — called the school’s closure a “big shock” and “bittersweet,” as she only had one year left to go. However, he applauded the school’s effort to move the students as a group.

Ascension’s principal, Jacquelyn Alvarez, touchingly told us that the students “are moving on to great things because they are amazing children.”

The closing of this historic Upper West Side school has stunned parents, leaving them with just a few months to search for new schools their children can attend in the fall. The Archdiocese of New York emphasized that the children displaced by school closures would be “welcomed” into neighboring Catholic schools.

The Ascension School was born out of the Church of the Ascension, which is located a block away from the school. The former New York Archbishop decided to create the parish in 1885 to serve the predominantly working-class German immigrants who had settled in the area. Before the creation of the church, locals would attend mass in the basement of the expansive Lion Brewery, one of the area’s biggest employers in a bygone era. The school was erected in 1911 at a different location before moving to its current site.