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Jun 15, 2018 12:46 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

McGann-Mercy Parents Push To Create New Catholic High School

McGann-Mercy High School closed at the end of the school year. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Jun 19, 2018 1:37 PM

In the months since the Diocese of Rockville Centre announced that it would be closing Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School in Riverhead—the only Catholic high school on the East End—supporters have been meeting to come up with a new way to give their children a religious education.

And they have a plan: parents have begun fundraising to open their own Catholic school in place of Mercy.

Robert Terry of Southampton, who sat on the McGann-Mercy parents advisory board before the school closed earlier this month, said forming a new Catholic school is the best option, explaining that it’s not feasible for parents to send their children to an up-island school, as the diocese has suggested. The next closest Catholic schools are St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip, or St. Anthony High School in Melville—each topping at least 40 miles from McGann-Mercy.

“We were in shock at first,” Mr. Terry said of the news this spring of the school closing. “We didn’t expect it to happen.”

Mr. Terry, a McGann-Mercy alumni, whose three children also graduated from the school, said parents started discussing the possibility of opening a new Catholic school shortly after the news of the school’s closure came in March.

“We really almost immediately got together as a group,” Mr. Terry said. “Some of us really wanted to see if it’s feasible.”

A committee was formed that includes parents, alumni and volunteer supporters. It is already spreading word about its plans through its new website, EastEndCatholic.com.

The reason for the effort is clearly stated at the top of the webpage: “With the closing of Bishop McGann Mercy, Eastern Long Island would be left without a Catholic high school within a 700 square mile area.”

The website continues to focus on the importance of Catholic education and explains that the curriculum at the school would blend Catholic tradition, innovation and STREAM education—which stands for science, technology, religion, English, art, and math.

Mr. Terry noted that the school could be an accredited Catholic school without receiving funding from the diocese. He and the committee have been researching other Catholic schools that operate in this manner and reviewing their budgets.

“It seems in other places in the country, this seems to be working,” Mr. Terry said. “And that’s why we decided to look into this.”

Sean P. Dolan, the director of communications for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said in a statement that his office was not aware of the efforts.

“The diocese has not been approached by anyone asking to lease the property of Bishop McGann Mercy Diocesan High School for an independent Catholic school,” the statement read. “There has been no change in the decision by the Diocese of Rockville Centre to close Bishop McGann Mercy Diocesan High School at the end of the current school year.”

While McGann-Mercy is based in Riverhead, it’s attended by students from across the South Fork. Statistics from the Diocese of Rockville Centre show that of the 304 students enrolled in the high school in its last year, 66 students resided in Southampton or East Hampton towns.

Nearly half of the students from the Hamptons come from the Hampton Bays School District. The rest come from districts in Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Montauk, Sag Harbor, Sagaponack, Southampton, Tuckahoe, Westhampton Beach and Eastport South Manor.

The committee pushing to create a new Catholic school also has several members from the South Fork, including parents and religious leaders.

The committee is holding a pair of golf outings to kick start its fundraising efforts.

On July 30, a golf outing will be held at The Vineyards Golf Club in Riverhead at 10:30 a.m. in support of the East End Catholic School initiative. More information, including other ways to donate, can be found on EastEndCatholic.com.

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I pray for their success!
By susgeek (40), Speonk on Jun 16, 18 7:41 AM
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