Urban, suburban kids formed friendships at All Saints Catholic Academy - Catholic Courier

Urban, suburban kids formed friendships at All Saints Catholic Academy

GATES — Liz Thaney, Spanish teacher at All Saints Catholic Academy, is one of the few teachers who can say she was present for both the opening and closing of her school.

Thaney was part of the planning committee that founded All Saints in 1991 when the seventh and eighth grades of several local Catholic schools were closed. Parents were encouraged to send their children to this new junior high school, located on the grounds of St. Theodore Parish.

"It was quite intense, quite thrilling, so we’re all quite sad to hear that it’s going to be closed," Thaney told the Catholic Courier June 13 during the school’s Field Day. All Saints is one of 13 diocesan-operated schools in Monroe County that will close at the end of June.

Before the school opened, planning-committee members polled potential incoming seventh-graders to find out what they thought the school colors should be. They tried to give the first group of students, parents and staff as much input as possible, Thaney recalled.

"It was exciting because you actually saw it develop," she said.

Nonetheless, some people did not share the excitement about the new school. Some parents were upset about the elimination of the middle-school grades from their parish schools, and others were concerned because All Saints brought together students from many different neighborhoods, Thaney said.

"For the first time there was this mesh of city and suburban students," she said. "We found that the kids found it far easier to adjust than some of the parents did."

All Saints’ diversity was one of its strengths throughout its 17-year history because it allowed its students to benefit from mingling and making friends with other children from different backgrounds, Thaney added.

"They find that no section or no people have a monopoly on being smart or being good, and that I think is the best thing to watch," she said.

Seventh-grader Samantha Kesselring, who belongs to St. Vincent DePaul Parish in Churchville, said she hadn’t known many kids who lived in the City of Rochester before coming to All Saints, but that her new best friend is a city resident.

"They’re just from the city. They’re not that different," Samantha said.

Eighth-grader Hannah Osgood agreed, saying she made friends with a wider range of people when she came to All Saints. She also was impressed by the school’s teachers.

"They really get you ready for high school," Hannah said.

"The teachers help support you. You have to concentrate on it, and they help you with your goals," added classmate Gequon Hunter. "It’s a lot of fun, but it’s serious, too. You have to be dedicated."

Gequon and Hannah are among a number of students planning to attend Rochester’s Aquinas Institute next year, Thaney said. Many students still are unsure where they’ll be next year, but a substantial number are planning to attend Irondequoit’s Bishop Kearney High School, Mother of Sorrows School in Greece and Siena Catholic Academy in Brighton.

Samantha, who will attend Siena, has seven siblings, six of who graduated from All Saints. She said she was excited when it was finally her turn to enroll there last fall, but that she’s disappointed her younger brother, who would have started at All Saints next year, won’t have a chance to experience the school.

Students, parents and staff worked through their disappointment to make the school’s last year the best it could be. Interim Principal Sister Patricia Carroll, SSJ, gave the eighth-graders a pep talk June 13 as they rehearsed for graduation.

"It’s going to be the best graduation this school has ever had," said Sister Carroll, who took the school’s reins in June when the former principal, Monette Mahoney, left for a job at a Catholic school in New Bern, N.C.

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