CHARLOTTE — “Forever Property of Holy Cross School.”
That was the proud message emblazoned on T-shirts worn June 6 by the school’s students, parents and staff members. Some 220 people, including 170 students, hiked north from the school to Ontario Beach Park in the late morning for the school’s last annual walk-a-thon.
Participants filled the Lake Avenue sidewalk as they shouted, sang and waved to cars while getting plenty of honks in return. Upon arriving at the park’s picnic pavilion, they were treated to a hot-dog lunch and bottled water on a blisteringly hot day.
It was one of the more uplifting events for Holy Cross following the diocese’s January announcement that the 110-year-old school — along with 12 other diocesan Catholic schools in Monroe County — will close at the end of this month due to declining enrollment and rising costs.
“It’s bittersweet. It really shows that we can pull together as a community,” said 14-year-old Bridget Morgan, a member of Holy Cross’ final graduating class, as the picnic neared its conclusion.
Bridget said she’s participated in every year-end walk-a-thon since she was in prekindergarten. She noted that many of her family members are graduates of Holy Cross, and that the school has been a vital part of Rochester’s historic and popular Charlotte section, where the Genesee River meets Lake Ontario. Rebecca Maloney, school principal, added that local support was exemplified by the many area businesses sponsoring this year’s picnic.
“A lot of people who went to the school live in this community. Everybody knows everyone,” Bridget said.
The outing served as the final major social gathering in school history. A community outdoor Mass for Holy Cross also is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 22, on parish grounds.
Holy Cross originally was established as a two-room schoolhouse by the Sisters of St. Joseph. The current school building opened in 1906. Maloney observed that the school’s logo is “Beacon of Hope” — an apt reference to the Charlotte Lighthouse that adjoins Holy Cross.
“That light shines on us, and now we’re going to spread it all over the community,” Maloney said, noting that approximately 85 percent of the Holy Cross students plan to attend Catholic schools this coming fall.
Maloney acknowledged that these last few months have “absolutely” been a time of emotional upheaval, saying the closing “certainly would not have been our choice.” Yet she added that the school community has done its best to move forward.
“We have to be an example, to show we can adapt to changes,” Maloney said, citing Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and the passage’s emphasis on how there is a time for everything.
Without a doubt, June 6 was a time for school spirit to flourish. After lunch ended, the student body bunched together for a gigantic group photo.
“One, two, three, Holy Cross!” they yelled through big grins as shutters clicked.
More pictures were taken and the shouts spread throughout the park:
“It’s great that everyone’s coming together and being strong, kind of looking past the sadness and focusing on fun,” Bridget said.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Maloney agreed.