Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mother of Sorrows to lose 7th, 8th grades?

5th, 6th and 7th grade students at Our Mother of Sorrows school brought the following letter home today ...


Dear Parents and Guardians of 5th, 6th and 7th graders,

The Department of Catholic Schools has NOT made any determination concerning the continuation of 7th and 8th grade at Our Mother of Sorrows.

Enrollment in 7th and 8th grade is the determining factor. The Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Mrs Anne Wilkins-Leach and the Associate Superintendent for Curriculum, Sr Margaret Mancuso SSJ are most anxious to meet with us to discuss the situation. This meeting will be scheduled in the very near future. I am waiting for confirmation from our superintendent. It is imperative that at least one parent or guardian of each student in grades 5, 6, 7 must attend this meeting.

In addition to Our Mother of Sorrows, Siena Catholic Academy offers a 7th and 8th grade program within the Monroe County Catholic School System. In order for you to make an informed decision, principals have agreed to distribute information for the independent Catholic High Schools that also have a 7th and 8th grade program.

Your commitment ot Our Mother of Sorrows School is testimony of your support to Catholic Education. We look forward to meeting with you.


Mr. Samuel Zalacca


The parent who sent me this letter also wrote,

I thought that closing 13 of our schools would be enough for a few years but obviously it won't be. I doubt no matter the enrollment that they will keep those 2 grades open after this year. As many of us have thought, the goal is to not have the diocese fund ANYTHING regarding the schools, as seen by the paltry 5% they have designated from the annual appeal. Its again so disheartening, as parents are continually asked to give and make sacrifices, which we do, but in the end it makes no difference.


gretchen said...

Mother of Sorrows does not have to lose 7th and 8th grades.

Let's look at this another way.

Last year they told us that MOS will keep grades 7 & 8 as long as the enrollment is high enough. Lots of parents are skeptical (looking at what Buffalo Rd. has done) and pulled their children from MOS to send them to AQ, BK, etc.

This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If enough kids are pulled out, MOS will lose the junior high because of the lack of enrollment that was caused by the wary parents pulling out their kids.

The ball really is in the court of the parents at MOS. What should we do with it?

In the choir loft said...

FWIW and totally unrelated to the topic. Mr. Zallaca's son, Joe, is a priest in the Buffalo diocese.

When will the DoR stop messing around with people's kids and their education. I'd pull the kids out and have the parents form a homeschooling group. Even though MOS claims to be Catholic, how much Catholicism is actually taught there?

nyyankeegirl said...

Well I can speak to this, unfortunately I have been down this road before. With all due respect the phrase "self fulfilling prophecy" is still ringing in my ears from my oldest child's years at st charles borromeo. We had a 7th and 8th grade too, a few years before the big 13 closings. Enrollment was down, we had the SAC meeting with the principal, superintendent from the diocese etc, who came in and told us we had to bring the 7th and 8th grade numbers up or we would lose those 2 grades. After the meeting, and despite the fact my son's entire lower grade and a few others PLEDGED to not send their children anywhere else for 7th and 8th grade which would bring the numbers up when they got there, they closed our 2 grades anyway. We went away with the thought, "well at least our school is still here" and we made the best of it with K-6. A couple of years later (sorry, fuzzy on the exact time frames), they closed Sacred Heart and St Johns School in Greece, and everything we knew was stripped from our school. We had been St Charles Borromeo school for 70 plus years, but they took away our name, our identity and fired all of our teachers and our beloved principal, and renamed our school "Catherine McAuley School" even though the building remained in the parking lot of St Charles Borromeo church! We did everything we could to bring those families from those 2 closed schools to our new "merged" school - I know, I was there and I worked at it with dedicated parents who did all we could. We were told if we spoke negatively about what happened with the 7th and 8th grade closings and about the fact our teachers and principal were fired (fired just because they decided to make one new school out of the 3) that it would be a "self fulfilling prophecy" and our school would closed too, just like theirs did, just like our 7th and 8th grades did. I know, I was there, and heard it over and over in the SAC meetings. So, we did all we could to welcome those families, recruit those families and make one school. From those 2 closed schools, we got less than 10 families, despite our work. A few went to Holy Cross, a few went to MOS, the rest left Catholic schools altogether because they were angry. But, our building was there, what was left of us were there and we tried to make it work. A few years after we were "merged" and renamed the hammer came down and what was left of us was closed with the other 12 schools. So Gretchen, forgive me for what you may feel is a negative attitude and "needing to look at this another way". Been there, done that. I HOPE and I PRAY for you, for me, for all the families this time is different. I will go to the meeting, I will do all I can, and I will pledge to send my child (again) to MOS 7th and 8th grade. Maybe I am naive in some ways that by this time I just haven't thrown in the towel on our local Catholic schools altogether. But then that would make me no different than the Bishop and Diocese itself who have thrown in the towel themselves. Our schools are worth fighting for. They deserve more than 5% of the appeal to fund them. I truly still believe in the concept and the reasons why they should be there and why MOS should still have its 7th and 8th grade without putting more families through more turmoil AGAIN! But at what point does the diocese see these schools as a ministry and more than just a bottom line? I cant help but think of Dickens A Christmas Carol, when the ghost of Marley visits Scrooge to warn him of his fate if he doesnt change his ways, and Scrooge says to Marley "but Jacob, you were always a good businesman" and Marley shrieks BUSINESS! MANKIND WAS MY BUSINESS!" When will our school be more than just a "fiscal bottom line" or a "business" but seen as the minsitry to our children it should be again? We are asked constantly to give to this appeal or that fund with sunday envelopes and pleas from the pulpit, how about our own backyard???

Anonymous said...

We pulled our kids from MOS this year. They were not at the jr. high level yet. I can tell you that academics played a large part for many parents. At the jr. high level they are very inadequate in some areas (math for example). Let's look at the building itself. At the jr high age, they really should have a gym and labs, etc.

Choir Loft, for the amount of Catholicism taught there, the lack of it was 1 major reason why we pulled our kids.

NYYankeegirl, I too believe in Catholic schools, and I would have loved to keep them there, but for all that I love about them, I send them there first and formost to get an education. When that is unsatisfactory, I don't have any other choice but to leave. If I had any other choices in this area of Greece, I would take them - but the closings took those choices away.

Anonymous said...

In the choir loft said...

FWIW and totally unrelated to the topic. Mr. Zallaca's son, Joe, is a priest in the Buffalo diocese.

BTW, very nice for him and his family, but if he spent a little less time talking about that and sending home things his son the priest wrote, and a little more time running the school, it might be a different place......

Gosh, I am sooooo not bitter am I?

Anonymous said...

Home school, public school or private school, but it's time to abandon DoR schools. It's not fair to the kids or to the parents with the constant uncertainly and change. You may not like that advice, but it's honest and in the best interests of your kids and you. Even if you don't leave, in a short time they will close the school anyway.

If His Excellency were in fact pastoral I could excuse the blatant incompetence. As he is neither competent nor pastoral in any meaningful way (witness the apostasy of hundreds of thousands during his tenure) I would, as they say in Russian, "vote with my feet." Of course you will only get his attention when you vote with your money.

Mike said...


According to the following comment, St. Charles lost its 7th and 8th grades in 2000.

(FYI, this is a portion of one of the several dozen comments made in response to one of the D&C's January 2008 stories on the school closings.)

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:38 pm Post subject:
I am a very active parent at Catherine McAuley in Greece ... When our 7th & 8th grade were closed in 2000, a representative from the diocese came to tell our parents. Our parents were very irate. The rep. was overheard saying "we'll never do that again, and never visit this school again" as they were leaving. When they consolidated our school, no one came to discuss it beforehand. No meetings were held. A rep. did visit the school but we were not really allowed to talk to her and no meetings were held.

nyyankeegirl said...

Mike, you are absolutely right and the comment that was made in the D & C was correct as well. (and no, the commenter in that article was not me). Parents were irate, because we made pledges that we would stay with the school and we would send our children to the 7th and 8th grade there, so in that sense alone enrollment would have gone up because a few of the lower grades had higher enrollment than was in the 7th and 8th grade at that present time. We were fighting for our school, and when they came back to tell us to buzz off we are closing your grades anyway (which I think now was their agenda all along no matter what we did) we did get angry. They never did come to our school to inform us we were being "consolidated" (which in essence shows that by saying they would never come back was the only time they kept their word). The teachers and principal were fired, and our name and identity taken away, and they did not come back to tell us or let us speak. A token rep showed up I think mainly to meet with our principal, but we were not allowed to meet with her, or speak with her, the deal was done. After that, we started a petition to just keep the name St Charles Borromeo School - at the time the merger was announced they didnt have a name for our school yet and they wanted to rename it. The diocese sent a sheet home asking for suggestions. Our suggestion was to not change the name - what was the purpose? We had a petition with not only names of school families, but parish and neighborhood families as well to keep the name St Charles. We sent it to the diocese. We got no response. Shortly thereafter it was announced they were renaming it Catherine McAuley school, and it closed a few years later.

scott said...

I hate to be the pessimist here but many of you hopeful must start to realize that the DEVIL is in the details and also resides in the chanchery!! This Bishop and his objectives have been well known for years but the unsuspecting people of our diocese are finally having the scales removed from their eyes to see how evil he ans his minions truly are!

In the choir loft said...

You know, when Bishop Sheen was bishop here, he tried to close Most Precious Blood School on Stenson STreet. This DID NOT go over with the parents at all. So, the night of the announced closure, the parents went to where Bishop Sheen was speaking and pelted his car with stones and started rocking the car. His driver sped away fast. The parents demanded absolutely that the school remain open. Sheen was petrified. The diocese announced the next day that the school would stay open.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Clark can hide in his Buffalo Road armory, his car would never get rocked as it is guarded by 30 lay preachers.

gretchen said...

nyyankeegirl, various anonymouses (sp?), et al.,

I apologize. I did not at all intend to create a firestorm here, nor did I intend to rip open any wounds. We're all on the same team (or at least I hope we are - Go Jesus!).

Many of you have been fighting to save the Catholic schools in the DoR much longer than I have, as I have lived here just over two years. (I do have experience working on saving a Catholic school in another state that was at risk of closing for a completely different reason, so the fighting-to-save part is not foreign to me.) My point is that when all is said and done, I don't want to be one who gave up without trying.

Also, can we please try to keep the snarkyish comments about Mr. Zalacca, slams on specific DoR schools, etc., to a minimum? I don't see how they are helpful to saving the schools in the DoR. United we'll stand, divided we'll surely fall...

Anonymous said...

Ok, there really was a point behind my snarky comment. Administration plays a HUGE role in the success of these schools. Look at the schools that are full to the gills with waiting lists. St. Rita's principal and the former Seton principal (now at CTK) were Sisters. They make it a point to know the children, greet them, etc. They are accessible and communicate regularly. And I know the principal where my kids were, couldn't tell you their names, and often did not even acknowledge parents in the hall. St. Lawrence (before his dismissal)had a dynamic principal, who fought for the school's needs. Unfortunately, I feel many of these administrators are "yes men" for the diocese. I don't question their credentials, faith, or desire to educate, but I think that very few would stick their necks out and contradict Buffalo Road. Look what happened to one who did.
These administrators set the tone for their schools. If people are leaving, they need to know why (and this was an issue we had with our school before it closed). If someone doesn't reregister, CALL THEM. Find out can we help you keep your child in a Catholic school, etc. I wrote a letter to our principal outlining why we left, and got NO response. Of the 6 people I cc'd the only response came from my pastor. Not the supt. of schools (who is so interested in maintaining enrollment), not the principal, not even a form letter from the Bishop's office. The fact of the matter, is that they would be just as happy to see all these schools gone. I'm not sure you can fight that attitude......I personally have no fight left. I will pray and wait patiently until 2012 and hope that the Bishop's successor will know the value of Catholic schools and that my youngest will be able to experience what my oldest have been denied.

Anonymous said...

I feel for the families at MOS, but I fear that the decision was already made. The parents should not blame each other, there is no self-fulfilling prophecy. This is 2008 all over again. The 7th-8th grades will be gone. Aquinas can easily accommodate them, and even if they couldn't the Bishop wouldn't care.
At Holy Trinity they had commitments from enough families to raise enrollment to the level of the other saved schools the next year. The Bishop decided it would harm the "entire system" to keep them open.
The K-6 will be next. St. Pius X is nowhere near full, and MOS doesn't have the facilities. Holy Cross should have been kept open instead, but who knows how many MOS families they would have lost because they didn't want to move there.
On the East Side, we lost Wayne County families that wouldn't go to St. Michael's, Holy Trinity families that wouldn't go to St. Rita's, St. John's families who wouldn't go to St. Joe's or Setone (and who were not welcome at St. Louis). I don't know the dynamics on the West Side, but I'm sure it's similar.
They purposely consolidate schools that they know will not work out, then wait for enrollment to go down so it looks like they had no choice.

Anonymous said...

CathMom speaks the truth.

The truth shall always prevail.

My heart goes out to the children at Mother of Sorrows School.

All of the blame has to go to Bishop Clark. There will be a lot of pain at Mother of Sorrows and the blood is on Bishop Clark's hands. He has no idea about the amount of pain that he is causing his own parishioners who are entrusted to his care as the Bishop of Rochester.

HTfamily said...

St. John Bosco School in Fairport (a new independent Catholic school) hopes to add an 8th grade next year making it prek-8. It has grown from 28 students last year to about 64 this year. It offers daily community prayer, weekly mass and monthly Confession as well as top-notch advanced academics. There is hope for Catholic education in Rochester. Take a look at St. John Bosco Schools.

Anonymous said...

HT Family...that is fabulous, but it is waaaaay to far for us westsiders!

gretchen said...

There is hope for Catholic education in Rochester.

That there is! And regardless of what some camps might believe, healthy competition is a good thing!

Keep up the good work, St. John Bosco Schools, and pray for us in the DoR schools!

HTfamily said...

Thanks. We are praying for the children's sake. Don't lose hope. In time, there will be more than one location for St. John Bosco Schools. (The official name of the school is intentionally plural for that very reason.)