Not wanting to go the way of some Catholic schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, St. Ann School in Flushing is spreading the word that it has space for more students.
To publicize that message, school officials are holding a press conference on Thursday to show the advantages of its pre-kindergarten through eighth grade program. The school is located at 142-45 58th Road.
According to Pat Cuomo, a parent who is actively involved in the school’s parent-teacher association, St. Ann’s currently has about 230 students. “We would like around 275. It would be a comfortable number,” he said.
Although Cuomo stressed that the school does not face closing, he noted that due to changing neighborhood demographics and a declining number of Catholics in the area, it was necessary to reach out to the broader community. “We want a sustained level of students,” Cuomo said. “There has been a decade of inaction and complacency on the part of the diocese.”
St. Ann School was founded in 1954, 27 years after the church was established. It opened with 332 students in grades 1 through 5.
Only three years ago, the enrollment was just under 300. When school opens next week, if current numbers remain the same, that will be almost 70 less students.
Cuomo and others at the school are hoping that publicity generated by the press conference will encourage other families to register their children at St. Ann’s. “We are feeling our way, starting at the bottom,” he said, “but we firmly believe the school is worth saving.”
He pointed to its small class size, a state of the art computer lab, a science lab, high academic standards and a safe learning environment as some of the advantages at St. Ann’s. There is also an early morning drop off and a supervised after-school program as well as peer tutoring.
“Cost is a factor, but academically we are doing a better job than the public schools. It really is a community environment and as parents we know that our children will be in a safe place in capable, dedicated hands,” Cuomo said.
Currently, a quarter of the students are Asian and not all are Catholic. School officials have already met with the Korean-American Association of Flushing and the Chinese-American Parents Association to tell them what the school has to offer.
The school has a limited budget, precluding it from spending money on advertising to promote St. Ann’s. But Cuomo is encouraged with the response he’s already gotten from the Chinese community. “Part of it was lack of information as many thought you had to be Catholic to go here.”
Admitting that most Catholic schools are not robust now due to dwindling enrollments, Cuomo nevertheless believes St. Ann’s is worth the investment, both as a parent paying for two tuitions and as a parishioner who wants the school’s legacy to continue.
For more information about the school, call 718-463-1238.