The Ascension School on West 108th St., which has been open since 1897, will close at the end of the current school year, a victim of changing demographics and enrollment declines tied to the pandemic, the Archdiocese of New York said.
It is one of five Manhattan based Catholic elementrary schools slated to close and one of 12 across the archdiocese which will be shuttered. In addition four Bronx schools will be merged into two.
“It is never a good day when we announce closures to any of our beloved schools, but the goal is always to strengthen the remaining institutions and preserve Catholic education in New York for decades to come,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York in a press release.
“We are doing everything we can to minimize the impact this will have on families and will provide both educational guidance and pastoral support to all those affected to ensure all children will be warmly welcomed into a nearby Catholic school. We are all in this together, and with hard work and God’s blessings, we will come out on the other side.”
One source said that the archiocese was spending an estimated $28 million a year keeping struggling schools afloat.
Parents of children at Ascension were stunned and disappointed that the 126 year old school will be no more. A school originally opened on West 107th in 1897, the same year that the largely working class German immigrants had built the Ascension Church. The opening of the churtch meant that Mass no longer had to be celebrated in the basement of the massive Lion Bremery, that once occupied six sity blocks in the neighborhood. n its heyday, the parish boasted 10,000 parishioners and the school that had 1,100 students with the boys taught by the Christian Brothers and the girls taught by the Sisters of Charity. At the end, it had less than 290 students. Still the end sent shock waves through the community.
Ety Ben, whose daughter attends Ascension’s preschool, said she found out only on Feb. 15 that the school would be closing.
“The teacher only knew 15 minutes before us,” said Ben. “It’s crazy! We need to open the application again and sign her to another pre-K.”
“We’re so sad,” she continued. “My son was here three years ago, and it’s the best of the best, the best school ever. Even [though] we can afford private school, we prefer this. Me and all my friends—this is our first choice.”
Another mother, Princess Damion, shared similar feelings.
“It’s sad. So sad,” she stated. “My son’s had major improvements here.”
Damion confirmed that the archdiocese had said they would help families find seats at other Catholic schools.
“We understand these are challenging times for many families, and this is indeed a sad day for everyone in our Catholic schools community,” shared Michael J. Deegan, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York.
“I personally mourn the loss of every one of our great schools. However, as we process this news, we must resolve that the great tradition of Catholic education in New York will continue, and we will assist all students who are seeking to carry on their Catholic education to find a seat at another excellent school in the Archdiocese.”
In addition to Ascension, the full list of Catholic schools slated to close is as follows: Academy of St. Paul & St. Ann on the Upper East Side; Guardian Angel School in Chelsea, Immaculate Conception School, East Village, Immaculate Conception School, 760 E Gun Hill Rd, Bronx* Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Inwood;
The Bronx closures include: Holy Family School; Santa Maria School; St. Angela Merici School; St. Brendan School; St. Margaret Mary School, Immaculate Conception School, 760 E Gun Hill Rd, Bronx*
In addition, four Bronx schools will merge into two: St. Francis Xavier, will merge with St. Clare of Assisi; St. Gabriel School, Bronx, will merge with St. Margaret of Cortona.
One school on Staten Island will close: St. Christopher School, Staten Island
*There are two Immaculate Conception Schools in the Bronx, one is located at 151st Street and operated by Partnership Schools. That school is NOT affected by this announcement and WILL NOT close.
Michael J. Deegan, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York.
“I personally mourn the loss of every one of our great schools.” Michael J. Deegan, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York