It was an afternoon of renewing friendships, a final walk through the building, and celebrating 85 years of educating students in the community.
More than 200 graduates of Visitation School met May 13 for Alumni Day. It was the last reunion at the school located at 171 W. 239th St., which will close at the end of the school year.
The afternoon was bittersweet.
“It’s almost like going to school with your family,” said Matthew Lurie, a 2004 graduate, who called Visitation’s closing a “tough pill to swallow.”
“It’s great to be back after not being in the building for so long. Going to school here was such a great experience for me.”
“My favorite memory is the fantastic education that I got from the women who dedicated their lives to teaching lunkheads like me. And we never appreciated them,” said Patrick Breen, a 1956 graduate. “We spent our entire time there trying to drive them insane, and they were wonderful, wonderful educators. And the kids that I went with, it was just a fantastic Disneyland. And I got the greatest education in the world.”
Breen was “outraged” by Visitation’s closing. “It’s all about greed. It’s an absolute disgrace, and if I could do something about it, I would. The idea of closing the school, especially a super school that gives the great education that this place does, is ludicrous.”
The Archdiocese announced Visitation’s closing along with five other schools in February.
Sinead Daly, a 1996 graduate and one of the organizers of Alumni Day, offered a perspective of the afternoon.
“I think we’re just going to really hold on to all the memories of Visitation with us forever,” she said. “It was really the foundation for a lot of our childhoods. And the fact that people from 20, 25, 50 years ago came here, you can just kind of see the lasting impact that the school had.”