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Tearful Graduation at St. Ann's School In Ossining

Students, parents and teachers teared up during St. Ann's Parish School's eighth grade graduation mass Friday, the last service the Ossining school will celebrate before closing its doors close for good.

"I'm a little hurt about the school closing, but it is what it is," said Maria Ortiz, whose son Alfred Ortero Jr. was in the graduation ceremony. "It's emotional, but we're trying to keep it on a positive note."

After 50 years serving thousands of children, the pre-K through eighth grade school is closing due to a gradual decline in enrollment and increased expenses the school was unable to meet without support from the Archdiocese of New York.

With seven eighth grade students graduating, St. Ann's School's last graduation ceremony was close-knit and personal. After a series of prayers, songs and religious ceremonies, Principal Jayson Bock gave a commencement speech thanking everybody from teachers to parents to the custodian for making the school special.

"There were many more good days than bad ones, and what more could we ask for?" Bock said after wiping a few tears from his eyes.

About 100 students attended St. Ann's School this year, an enrollment that is down from a high of    about 450 students in the 1990s. With the school closing, students who have been friends for many years will soon be splitting up. Some will integrate into public schools while others will attend other Catholic schools.

Rev. Edward Byrnes, pastor at St. Ann's Church, noted that though St. Ann's School will be closed, the early childhood program, Peas and Karrots, for three, four and five-year-olds, will remain open.

The St. Ann's school building will also remain open for more than 600 children who attend religious education, adults in English as a Second Language classes and for basketball and volleyball games, Byrnes said.

"We have so many good memories together," said Dorothea Muccigrosso, who was principal of St. Ann's School for 22 years. "God knows what He's doing. We have to keep faith. A door will open, that's the way God is."

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