New Epiphany principal aims to build students’ confidence

Stuyvesant Town resident Kate McHugh has replaced James Hayes as principal at Epiphany School. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town resident Kate McHugh has replaced James Hayes as principal at Epiphany School. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After nearly four decades, The Epiphany School will have a new principal.

Former principal — and now school foundation president — James Hayes left the position in June to much fanfare and a 200-person flash mob.

Taking over for him is the former assistant principal, Stuyvesant Town resident Kate McHugh, who joined the school 15 years ago as a science teacher. She is also a graduate of the Catholic school, which now has 560 students.

During a recent interview, McHugh said she’s not planning any major changes, just tweaks to the current curriculum with the goal of doing what it takes to make sure students are confident, both in their faith and in being prepared for the realities of the day’s highly technological world.

“We’ve increased the amount of technology a lot in 15 years,” McHugh said, “mirroring what’s going on in society.”

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Opinion: In praise of Jim Hayes

Epiphany principal James Hayes (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Epiphany principal James Hayes (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

In just a few short weeks the new school year begins. Kids will have new books, software and other educational tools. Some may have a new outfit to wear on the first day of school.

But what the students lucky enough to attend Epiphany will not have this year is Jim Hayes as their principal.

For nearly four decades Jim has been the heart and soul of one of the most successful grade schools in the city… parochial or public. Jim would undoubtedly attribute all the credit to his dedicated teachers, both secular and religious, and he would laud his students and their families, but much of the credit belongs to Jim.

You would see him standing outside the school building on 22nd Street near Second Avenue as the kids arrived each and every day, and then again at the end of the day when they departed. His watchful eye could always spot trouble before it occurred or notice one of his students in distress. Jim made sure that they arrived safely, prepared to learn, and left safely as well. He knew his students by name and most of their parents.

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Send-off fit for a prince-ipal

Epiphany’s James Hayes steps down after 38 years

Epiphany principal James Hayes was surprised by a flash mob of students, parents and alumni on Friday morning. He will remain with the school by heading its fundraising arm. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Epiphany principal James Hayes was surprised by a flash mob of students, parents and alumni on Friday morning. He will remain with the school by heading its fundraising arm. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, June 17, James Hayes, the principal of the Epiphany School for the past 38 years, had intended to treat his last day on the job like any other — by standing out front and greeting the students as they came in.

But this time, when he opened the door, there was a crowd of nearly 200 people outside — students, parents, alumni and neighbors. Before he was fully aware what was going on, the flash mob of fans then broke into song, belting out “I’d Do Anything” from the Broadway show “Oliver.”

They ended with, “We’d do anything for you, Jim, anything. For you mean everything to us.”

According to a parent, assembling the surprise serenade was necessary if the school wanted to give him any kind of sendoff, since he hadn’t wanted a party.

Nonetheless, Hayes seemed to appreciate the gesture, as students and alumni from decades ago lined up for photos with him in front of the school building on East 22nd Street.

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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 30

Cartoon by Jim Meadows (website)

Cartoon by Jim Meadows (website)

Thoughtless foreign policy will lead to war

Re: “U.S. heading to another war?,” T&V, Jan. 23

To the editor:

I begin my letter with the reminder of something said a few years back by Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister said, “We want to be known as the ‘Jewish State.’” My use of the term is governed by Netanyahu’s risky remark.

In his letter, J. Sicoransa wrote about a bill currently being formulated in the United States Senate, by Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), with co-sponsorship of Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). It is unfortunate that our political leaders, in particular the senior senator from New York, should place The United States of America at the service of “the Jewish State.” Israel developed its nuclear/germ warfare capacity and thereby introduced that sort of awfulness directly into the Middle East. For our part, here in the States, Israel’s possession of a nuclear capacity is something U.S. presidents, including Mr. Obama, have chosen to ignore. The demand that America support “the Jewish State” without regard to what it actually initiates runs counter to Jewish intellectual tradition. Mr. Schumer’s commitment to Israel would draw America into supporting it as a Jewish State rather than as a nation on its own merits, plain and simple.

Mr. Schumer has shown himself a hawk in matters other than those bound by his faith. In an email to me, dated Oct. 24, 2013, responding to my moral doubts about our drone practices, Senator Schumer wrote coolly, “These unmanned aircraft are most commonly known for their operations overseas in tracking down and killing suspected members of Al Qaeda and related terrorists organizations.” Here, in print, a United States Senator puts himself and our foreign policy on record that we kill over there on (mere) suspicion.

Does he imagine that if we kill people “over there,” those actions will not distort life here? To my query about the use of drones over our skies and the meaning of that action given our Constitution, the senator gave the now patented reply about the need for “balance between security and liberty in America.” How awful that we send our troops to other countries where many of them die believing they are protecting our way of life. Yet here on the home front, that way of life, that Constitution and those endowed rights, is the very life Mr. Schumer and others would reason away. “Balance” has become a symptom of severely detached reasoning.

John M. Giannone
Stuyvesant Town

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Dolan: Epiphany a ‘light in the world’

Cardinal Timothy Dolan with Epiphany students during a 125th anniversary event for the school (Photos by Mollie O'Mara)

Cardinal Timothy Dolan with Epiphany students during a 125th anniversary event for the school (Photos by Mollie O’Mara)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, made a special appearance at Epiphany Church last weekend to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of the parish’s school.

During a mass held on Saturday night, Dolan showered praise on the school, which has been doing well financially, unlike so many other Catholic institutions in New York City, which have seen attendance and interest dwindle.

For the last three years we have been going through the painful but necessary process of making painful decisions to close and merge schools,” Dolan said.

As we’re getting somber news, we’re here now talking about a school that works. (Epiphany) not only works but flourishes and prospers as a light in the world. It does my heart good to come here. I needed this.”

After the mass was a reception in which Dolan spent time greeting and hugging the students, parents and parishioners that wanted to meet him, while holding a beer in his hand. He also put his red skullcap on students’ heads when posing for pictures.

He’s a very warm and caring individual,” said Jim Hayes, who’s been the Epiphany School’s principal for more than 30 years. “He made sure that everyone who wanted to meet him got a chance to talk to him.”

He also called the service by Dolan “beautiful,” adding that it had always been part of plan to have the cardinal be part of the 125th anniversary celebration.

It was one of the nicest liturgies we’ve had here in a number of years,” said Hayes. “The church was packed and it was a wonderful experience for everybody.”

Monsignor Leslie Ivers with Cardinal Dolan at Epiphany Church

Monsignor Leslie Ivers with Cardinal Dolan at Epiphany Church

Hayes has known the cardinal for about four years but the principal said that this is the first time the archbishop has lead mass at the church.

Following the service, parishioners and parents attending a reception expressed their appreciation for the school and for Dolan.

He could open for Bruce Springsteen,” said Michael Gargiulo, who has been a parishioner at the church

for more than 50 years and whose now-grown children went to Epiphany School.

He’s got a common touch; he’s relatable to people.”

Gargiulo, who moved to the neighborhood when he got married, said he and his wife had initially planned to move again to the suburbs. They never made it out of the city though and both of their kids ended up at Epiphany.

This was the foundation to build on for a good education,” Gargiulo said. “The best aspect of this school is the involvement of parents and families with the school. That’s what makes it great.”

Ed Maher, who lives in the Lower East Side and currently has a daughter attending the school, said that he comes to Epiphany events for the sense of community.

We don’t really have a community in our neighborhood downtown so we come up here for that,” he said.

Chris McCartin, who also currently has a child enrolled and lives farther downtown, agreed that the school offers a more small-town experience within New York.

Coming here (to school events) reminds me of my little town on Long Island,” he said. “It’s a no-nonsense education with a lot of great people.”

Cardinal Dolan with Epiphany School teachers

Cardinal Dolan with Epiphany School teachers

 

Epiphany School celebrates 125 years, Cardinal Dolan will attend anniversary event on Jan. 18

Epiphany School's principal of 35 years, Jim Hayes, at a 125th anniversary event for alumni in November (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

Epiphany School’s principal of 35 years, Jim Hayes, at a 125th anniversary event for alumni in November (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

By Sabina Mollot

In a day and age when many Catholic institutions, in particular churches and schools are disappearing, one has managed to not only remain financially secure but thrive, and is now celebrating its 125th anniversary.

That institution would be the Epiphany School, where enrollment recently increased by 5 percent and

Cardinal Dolan, pictured during a visit to Immaculate Conception Church in 2010, will be visiting Epiphany. (Photo by Andrew Park)

Cardinal Dolan, pictured during a visit to Immaculate Conception Church in 2010, will be visiting Epiphany. (Photo by Andrew Park)

where Cardinal Timothy Dolan will help celebrate the landmark anniversary with a special mass and reception later this month.

Jim Hayes, the school’s principal of 35 years, told Town & Village that he credits the school’s continued growth to a few factors.

One is a foundation that holds frequent fundraisers for parents and alumni. Another has been a steady level of support, financially and otherwise from parents, in part possible due to the school’s lower than average tuition for a parochial school — $7,000. Then there’s the recent launch of a program for three and four-year-olds at the school’s 28th Street building, which also houses grades 4-8. Students in grades K-3 learn at the 22nd Street facility near the church. The new program, meanwhile, has attracted more students, so much so that there’s a waiting list. In total, Epiphany has around 600 students, up from 250 in 1980.

This has meant, said Hayes, that the school is financially independent from the church, other than the fact that the church owns the school’s buildings.

Previously, the school’s student population had mostly come from Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village but at this time, kids from the ST/PCV community make up only about 40 percent of the student body. A small percentage of the students come from the outer boroughs, but most are still walking distance from school, and the new program for younger kids has attracted more families from the Murray Hill, Kips Bay and Turtle Bay neighborhoods.

“There are more and more kids from the East Side up to the 40s and 50s,” said Hayes. As for those in ST/PCV, the dwindling enrollment from there has mainly to do with rising rents, a pattern school officials first noticed a decade ago. “The writing on the wall has been there for a while,” said Hayes. “Those guys are getting priced out.”

Meanwhile, being situated near Gramercy Park, the school has always had a steady stream of Gramercy students. Gramercy Park itself hasn’t changed much though all the recent development of condo buildings in Gramercy has brought more families to the area.

For them, despite the crowding and other challenges faced by local public schools, the biggest draw to Epiphany is still the religious curriculum, said Hayes.

“We haven’t given up our Catholic identity,” he said. “We teach religion every day.”

Interestingly, at this time, ten percent of the school’s students aren’t even Catholic, but are, among other faiths, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist. Those students, said Hayes, “learn about the Catholic faith as a subject the same way they’d learn about literature. We’re not trying to convert them.”

And the diversity hasn’t seemed to hurt the school’s fundraising efforts.

A recent walkathon raised over $100,000 for the school’s foundation. A 125th anniversary reception for alumni in November attracted 350 people with many tickets priced at $125. For the past few years, there’s also been a car raffle. For this revenue earner, the foundation has managed to get a Mercedes at cost and then make money through the sale of $100 raffle tickets. Last time, 700 tickets were sold. Through these and other various fundraising efforts, which include golf games and basketball games, the school’s foundation has been pulling in $750,000-$900,000 a year.

Guests, mainly alumni, pack a reception for the 125th anniversary of the school, held in November. (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

Guests, mainly alumni, pack a reception for the 125th anniversary of the school, held in November. (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

John Link is the director of development for Epiphany’s foundation, which was launched in 1999. Since then, he said the foundation has held different types of fundraisers in the hopes of attracting supporters who are newer to Epiphany and the area and tend to give more as well as the more longterm supporters like parents and alumni who have less money but tend to give small amounts consistently. The latter group also tends to be helpful in the volunteering department, noted Link.

“They want to volunteer and they’re just very passionate individuals,” he said.

As for the money that gets raised, Hayes said Epiphany’s been able to provide educational tools for students, like iPads to do their work on as well as Smartboards in every classroom — items that are normally reserved for much pricier private schools. At Epiphany, all sixth, seventh and eighth graders get their own iPads to use, while for those in the younger grades, it’s one iPad for every two kids.

“So we’re really pushing the envelope with technology,” said Hayes.

The only challenge the school is currently facing, he said, is that more space is needed for more would-be students. For parents looking to get their kids to the top of the waiting list, it helps, said Hayes, to have some ties with the parish, or if they’re new to the area, ties to the parish where they’re from.

Epiphany kids, noted Hayes, tend to be involved in programs beyond their classes, like basketball on Saturdays or mass on Sundays.

“It’s a seven day week with basketball and mass,” he said, explaining what he feels the school’s identity has to separate it from other religious schools. “Other schools might not be so community based. Maybe they’re more transient-based. We’re like a suburban school in Manhattan.”

Epiphany students at a food drop event (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

Epiphany students at a food drop event (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

Anyone interested in attending the mass and reception to be attended by Cardinal Dolan, which will be held on January 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Church of the Epiphany at 375 Second Avenue and 22nd Street, should call the school’s Office of Development at (212) 473-6158. Tickets are $60. Those looking to attend the mass only with Dolan should contact the church at (212) 475-1966 ahead of time.

This will be the last of the school’s 125th anniversary events, with the main one being the alumni reception in November, held at the Yale Club. (The Church of the Epiphany this year is celebrating its 146th anniversary.)

Epiphany School first opened its doors on September 10 of 1888 by principal Sister Mary Verena Fitzpatrick. On that first day of school, there were 84 girls and 60 boys.

 

 

Local events this week: Mammograms, Bird walk, MulchFest

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman at a mammogram event in December

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman at a mammogram event in December

Free mammograms outside Stuyvesant Town

Following a successful event last month in which women 40 and older were offered free mammograms outside of Stuyvesant Town, the mammogram van is back today.

The event sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, is running now through 4 p.m. today on First Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets. Space is limited and appointments are mandatory. Call (800) 564-6868. All insurance plans accepted. Co-payments and deductibles waived. Free for women over 40.

Theater at the 14th Street Y presents ‘Kaddish’

“Kaddish,” a play based on Nobel Prize-winner Imre Kertész’s novel “Kaddish for an Unborn Child,” will run January 10-13 at the Theater at the 14th Street Y.
“Kaddish,” a one-man show featuring Jake Goodman and directed by Barbara Lanciers, comes to the Y following a critically-acclaimed run in Budapest this past June.
The play is an exploration of ritual and loss. It looks at a father’s unrelenting conflict over the absence of the child he never had during his ultimately doomed marriage. A Holocaust survivor, he had refused to bring a child into a world where horrors like the one he experienced can occur. The longing and regret that haunt this character give rise to one of the most eloquent meditations ever written on the Holocaust. The production is intimate, featuring a solo performance by Jake Goodman on a 10-foot square stage covered in dirt and light.
Performances (55 minutes in length) are Jan. 10 at 5 and 7 p.m., Jan. 11 at 11 a.m., 3 and 9 p.m., Jan. 12 at 1, 4 and 6 p.m. and Jan. 13 at 3 and 5 p.m. Tickets, $18, can be purchased at http://www.14streety.org/boxoffice or by calling 1-800-838-3006. The Theater at the 14th Street Y is located at 344 East 14th Street between First and Second Avenues.

Bobby Fulham memorial game set for January 11

On Saturday, January 11, 2014 the sixth annual Bobby Fulham Epiphany Alumni basketball game will be held at Xavier High School in the main gym, 30 West 16th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Doors open for registration and warm-ups at 6 p.m. The ladies’ game is at 7 p.m. Men’s game to follow.
The late Bobby Fulham, a resident of Stuyvesant Town, was a good friend to many families in the neighborhood and was instrumental in getting the Epiphany Basketball Program to the level it is at today. Fulham lost his battle to cancer five years ago this past November. Every year many former players return to play in the game in his honor.
All of the proceeds of this year’s event will be donated to the CYO Basketball and the Epiphany School basketball program. Admission is a $20 donation, which includes a commemorative t-shirt, $5 for students and kids. Players are also asked to donate $20. All checks should be made out to CYO. For more information, contact Ray Curley (rtcurley99@aol.com), Tom Issing (tgi32@aol.com) or Mike Nealy (Michael.nealy@admlaw.com).

Bird walk on January 12

On Sunday, January 12 at 9 a.m., Anne Lazarus will lead a bird walk through Stuyvesant Cove Park and Stuyvesant Town. This free event will begin at the 20th street entrance to Stuyvesant Cove Park near the rocky outcropping, continue through the park and end in Stuyvesant Town. Possible bird sightings include several winter water birds as well as some interesting ducks. It is also hoped that the Varied Thrush, a rare bird recently spotted in Stuyvesant Town, will stay in the area until then. The walk will last approximately two hours and will take place even in the event of light rain. All are invited to participate and encouraged to bring cameras and binoculars. The Stuyvesant Cove Park Association would love to receive any photos of birds spotted on the walk. They can be sent to stuyvesantcove@yahoo.com.

Kips Bay neighborhood Alliance fundraiser

The Kips Bay Neighborhood Alliance is holding a fundraiser at Hill & Bay, 581 Second Avenue, on Monday, January 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to raise awareness and membership. The event will give residents a chance to meet their neighbors, community leaders and local elected officials. The $20 suggestion donation for the event includes annual membership to the KBNA, one drink ticket and appetizers. There will also be a cash bar available. For more information, contact kbna.info@gmail.com.

MulchFest in Stuyvesant Town, Tompkins Sq. Park

Stuyvesant Town and Tompkins Square Park will be participating as chipping sites in MulchFest on Saturday, January 11 and Sunday, January 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At this event, New Yorkers are encouraged to bring their discarded Christmas trees to be recycled into mulch. The site at Stuyvesant Town will be at the East 20th Street Loop and the site in Tompkins Square Park will be at East 7th Street between Avenues A and  B.  Free mulch will be available at each chipping site. Trees can also be brought to a drop-off site beginning on January 4 through January 12 to be recycled later. Special curbside collection for mulching and recycling of trees will be conducted by the Department of Sanitation from December 30 to January 15.

Coat drive at Oval Concierge through January 15

New York Cares is working with Community Partners in NYC to distribute coats to New Yorkers in need. A temporary bin has been set up at Oval Concierge to make it easy for PCV/ST residents to donate new or clean, gently used jackets and coats from Thursday, January 9 through Wednesday, January 15 at Oval Concierge (276 First Ave).

MORE EVENTS

For listings om local entertainments events: concerts, theater, comedy, burlesque, art exhibits, kids’ events, discussions and more, see T&V’s Around & About page.

For listings on local health and fitness events: support groups, screenings, classes and more, see T&V’s Health and Fitness page.

For listings on events held at local houses of worship: talks, special services, classes and volunteer efforts, see T&V’s Religion Page.