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Catholic Central High School in Troy and St. Ambrose in Latham to merge

Aerial shot of the St. Ambrose Latham campus
Catholic Central
Aerial shot of the St. Ambrose Latham campus

It's the end of an era for a landmark area school.

More than 25,000 students have graduated from Catholic Central High School, which first opened in the early 1920's on Troy's Eighth Street, now part of the RPI campus. In 1953, the school moved to North Troy, where it remained for decades.

Diocese of Albany Catholic Schools Superintendent Giovanni Virgiglio says beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, students from CCHS will join students from St. Ambrose School to form a new school community in Latham.

“A couple of factors came and played into the decision of looking at the Latham campus," Virgiglio said. "First and foremost, when you look at the districts that both Catholic Central and St. Ambrose draw from, the public school districts that they draw from, and the counties that they serve, a good number of our students reside both in Albany and Saratoga County, when traveling to Catholic Central. And this move, really, to a very convenient location at the corners of Route 7 and 9 just off the Northway, allows for really allows for not only convenience, but also allows for access both north south east, or rather, all north, south, east and west.”

Virgiglio says there's an abundance of greenspace at the Latham campus that can be converted to athletic fields and new construction.

“Furthermore, when you look at the campus in Lansingburgh, it required a lot of structural repair, that our students would never see the benefit of that repair would be the bricks and mortar," said Virgiglio. "And while the Lanisingburgh facility has certainly served generations of Catholic Central Crusaders, as well, it has its limitations when it comes to our current student body. And it's a split campus too. So we have students that are crossing the street each day to get to the gymnasium, to get to the cafeteria. And having a campus that, you know, has everything under one roof, really speaks to really a tremendous opportunity that awaits our students when they make the move.”

The CCHS building will be put on the market soon. The Diocese plans to retain ownership of the Monsignor Burns Gymnasium to allow for more flexibility in programming for athletic practices and competitions.

Virgiglio says initial reaction to the move from parents of current students, and prospective families is excitement.

“I think our parents recognize that to best serve their children, a move is required," Virgiglio said. "Alumni, I think, too, want to see the success of Catholic Central continue, will see the opportunity and the potential that exists in an announcement like this. There’s an alumn who actually sits on the futures committee that shared a story with me, and it actually resonated very much with me, this idea that families move all the time, right, as a family, as a family's needs change as they grow, or they, you know, need to relocate, they will always make that new location, their home. And similarly, Catholic Central needs to move, and it will make the Latham campus its new home. All of the familial and familiar aspects of a Catholic Central education will certainly come over to Catholic Central School in Latham.”

St. Ambrose School currently has 150 students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, while Catholic Central High School has 220 students in grades 6 through 12.

Virgiglio adds with the new K through 12 configuration, students will be able to enter the school at any grade level.

“When we look at the landscape of the Diocese of Albany, we have fewer churches, and we have fewer schools than we did before. But at the same time, the need to provide Catholic education is greater than ever," Virgiglio said. "Recently, this year with the pandemic we've seen growth in enrollments, a 4% increase overall, in our diocese, with several schools, seeing double digit increases, percentage increases. And this really is looking to provide families that are looking to a Catholic education, with an opportunity that is centrally located, but also provides for a state of the art education that will be enhanced with many of the surrounding universities that we presently have partnerships with.”

Virgiglio says the new school, Catholic Central, will be created in phases over the next few years, and will also be spiritually and physically linked to St. Ambrose Catholic Church, creating new opportunities for youth ministry, service, and various activities.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.