BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Michael Molinelli was a part of the first graduating class at Briarcliff Manor’s St. Theresa Catholic School in 1973, and his twins will be a part of the last graduating class later this year.
St. Theresa School in Briarcliff will be closed by The Archdiocese of New York, officials with the school said Tuesday afternoon. The school was one of five in Westchester targeted for closing as part of a consolidation effort by the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese of New York announced in November that the Catholic elementary school was one of about 120 in the Archdiocese that were “at-risk” of closing. The Archdiocese informed officials at St. Theresa School early Tuesday along with parents at St. Casimir in Yonkers and Our Lady of Fatima in Scarsdale.
St. Theresa School teaches roughly 150 pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students from Briarcliff Manor and surrounding communities and employs more than 20 teachers and staff, school officials said.
Molinelli, who helped head the group trying to save the school known as “Helpers Of St. Theresa,” said Tuesday he was saddened by the announcement.
“We put a plan together that we thought demonstrated things the Archdiocese wanted to see, so we’re severely disappointed that they didn’t see the viability of our plan,” he said. “And we’re upset that such an astounding effort from really great people just wasn’t enough. It’s a shame that all that effort is going to waste.”
In addition to having twins who will graduate this year, Molinelli said he was saddened that his son, a sixth-grader, would not get the chance.
“He would’ve been in the school for two more years and that’s my biggest disappointment,” he said. “It is a school he loves and it would have been very good for him, so now we have to find something else. When we tried to build St. Theresa, it wasn’t out of self-interest. It was for our son and all of the generations of the future who will miss out.”
Dozens of alumni, including 16-year-old Tara Hammonds and 16-year-old Julia Solari, hosted bake sales and community fundraisers recently that raised more than $7,000 for the school and hosted a lock-in in December called “Occupy St. Theresa.” Tara said Tuesday that it was difficult to hear it wasn’t enough.
“We’re all very sad right now,” she said. “It was crushing because so many of us for the past two months haven’t thought about anything other than the school and trying to save it. We knew this could happen, but it was still a shock that after all we’ve done, it’s still going to close.”