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Queens Chronicle

Holy Cross HS’s move to coed a success

Flushing school’s principal says transition ‘is making history for us’

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Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:30 am

With Holy Cross High School having just kicked off classes with its first-ever coed freshman group, Principal Edward Burns is thrilled.

“I have to say the excitement in the building is incredible,” he told the Chronicle. “It’s been a wonderful few days. ... This is making history for us.”

Burns, a 1984 graduate of the school, said the class of 2022 has about 200 students — a sizable increase over the roughly 130 last year.

The co-ed transition, which the 63-year-old Flushing institution announced last year, has also led to more hires. A new physical education teacher and other ones for core subject areas have been brought on.

Other Catholic schools in Queens, like St. Francis Preparatory High School in Fresh Meadows, Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood and Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School in East Elmhurst, also used to have male pupils only.

But with Holy Cross now co-ed, only three Catholic schools in the borough have single-sex student bodies: St. Agnes Academic High School in College Point and The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica Estates are female students-only, while Cathedral Preparatory Seminary High School in Elmhurst is male students-only.

As far as sports go, Holy Cross already has teams set up for the girls — their track squad has already had a meet; the volleyball one has already played a game.

Physical changes to accommodate the new students were made to the building. For example, Holy Cross designated athletic lockers for the females and renovated old bathrooms for them. The school wasn’t going to make the guys feel left out, though — their bathrooms were also revamped.

Back in August, the school held a freshman experience day at which the new students learned about the mission and history of the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

According to Burns, the move to co-ed was also encouraged by the Brothers of the Holy Cross. Only four of the 22 schools in its congregation are single-sex only.

“We were the outlier, being single gender, when most of the other schools were co-ed,” the principal said.

Declining enrollment has financially squeezed Catholic schools. In Queens this year, three of them — St. Pancras School in Glendale, Our Lady of the Angelus in Rego Park and Our Lady of Lourdes in Queens Village closed their doors. And in the borough’s northeast section, the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy closed its Bayside campus and merged it with the one in Douglaston.

“You always look at the economics of your situation. So, yeah, that’s part of it,” Holy Cross Vice President of Institutional Advancement Jimmy Conboy, a 1983 graduate, said of the decision to make the school co-ed. “But the bigger part of it is really promoting how we educate our children.”

He recalled a quote from the founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau: “How we educate the mind will change with the times; how we cultivate the heart is and will remain timeless.”

The switch to a student body of both boys and girls isn’t the only major development playing out at the Flushing school.

Thanks to a generous donation, Holy Cross in October will have the grand opening for a new library media center; work on the project began in July.

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