Howard Beach, Ridgewood, Bayside schools get new role

Douglaston’s St. Anastasia School is one of three city Catholic schools that the Brooklyn diocese has proposed transforming into an academy.
By Nathan Duke

Douglaston’s St. Anastasia School is one of three city Catholic schools chosen by the Brooklyn diocese under a proposed refiguration to become an academy this fall, the school’s assistant principal said.

Two other borough schools — Ridgewood’s Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Howard Beach’s Our Lady of Grace — were also selected by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn earlier this month to be transformed from parish to academy schools.

Assistant Principal Cynthia Roma said the school was honored that the diocese’s Bishop Frank Caggiano had singled out St. Anastasia as one of the three schools, which will act as flagship programs for a new form of Catholic school governance.

“By choosing us, he’s looking at our school and saying that we have great things to offer,” Roma said. “We have a lot of technology and great students. He saw this and found that it was worth expanding on. The diocese will be giving us a lot of guidance as we proceed through the process.”

The school, located at 45−11 245th St. in Douglaston, is proposed to become an academy in September, she said.

The diocese will introduce a two−tiered system of governance with the three schools. Under the system, the bishop will appoint a top tier, which will include the schools’ pastors as well as the bishop and several others. The second tier will include experts in a specific field, such as fund−raising, marketing or technology.

The principals of the schools will still run the day−to−day operations of the schools, focusing on the development of curriculum and after−school programs, Roma said. The school’s pastor, George Ryan, currently acts as head of the school.

Roma said St. Anastasia, which now serves 212 students from nursery school to eighth−grade, will not undergo any new construction or close at any point to become an academy. But the school must apply for a new charter with the state and its name could potentially change before the fall semester.

She said the school intends to draw in more students once it becomes an academy and that she hopes it will be able to develop new academic programs and offer more scholarships in the future. Roma said the school also wants to extend its after−school program, which currently ends at 5:30 p.m., to 7 p.m.

“We are hoping to expand curriculum as well as add a gifted program and more language programs, but nothing has been set in stone,” she said.

The school currently offers Spanish and Italian classes to its students.

Roma said the school primarily serves children from Douglaston and Little Neck, but also has students from Cambria Heights, Holliswood and Great Neck, L.I. She said any student from the five boroughs can attend the school.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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