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Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany opens new consolidated central school in Latham

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger officially opened and blessed the new Catholic Central School, which he says looks "beyond the borders of traditional educational models."
Ed Parham
Rueckert Advertising & Public Relations
Bishop Edward Scharfenberger officially opened and blessed the new Catholic Central School, which he says looks "beyond the borders of traditional educational models."

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has officially opened its first Pre-K to 12 school after a major local restructuring.

In an official ribbon-cutting ceremony September 15th, Catholic Central kicked off the 2022-23 school year, welcoming 385 students to the Latham campus of what had been St. Ambrose School, now being expanded to accommodate students who previously attended Catholic Central High School in Troy, which had served students for almost 100 years.

Like other Catholic Schools, CCHS had seen enrollments dwindle year after year. On its website school officials noted that, besides having limited space for athletic events and limited parking, the Lansingburgh campus was determined to be inconveniently located based upon the school districts from where students were coming. An engineering study found it would be quite costly to correct "long-term issues with the [existing] buildings." The diocese opted to spend that money upgrading the St. Ambrose campus.

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger officially opened and blessed the new consolidated school, which he says looks "beyond the borders of traditional educational models."

"Well, Catholic Central has been a very successful Catholic school for many, many years," said Scharfenberger . "And this is a new phase, which gives us an opportunity to take our mission and actually expand it to reach out to more students, because now it's including children from K all the way up to 12. And it's an opportunity to engage more people as well to, you know, to get the message out of the value of Catholic education, as I mentioned before, how it forms the whole person, how it reaches out to everyone, and how it really helps to create a whole new generation of citizens. As you know, Catholic schools are famous for forming people that have contributed greatly to our society, they get that message out. It's a message of success. It's a message of hope, and, and a great joy. So it's the joy that comes from the learning process. As you know, during the pandemic, our schools remained open. And that's one of the reasons why we're able to continue with this because there was so much enthusiasm of continuing what we do so well.”

Parent Jamie Gannon of Clifton Park has children in kindergarten, first and third grades at the new CCS.

"For families to have pre K through 12, in one location is, you know, is by far the most convenient thing for families, especially families that have a different mix of ages and, you know, genders across the board, to know that they can all stay together in one place is a relief, said Gannon. "Breaking the kids up? For me having a daughter and two sons was, I would think about the future, where will they go? Will they go somewhere together, but then also in a convenient central location, which was another issue. So did I want to drive them here? What drive one here drive one there, you know, and so it makes a big difference when making that decision for the long run. So to have that convenience, and one central location is, you know, makes the decision to keep them in one spot so much easier.”

Located on Old Loudon Road off Exit 7 of I-87, CCS is being built out in phases over the next few years. Officials say there’s an abundance of green space at the Latham campus that can be converted to athletic fields and new construction. Pre-K-through Grade 5 principal Lily Spera says all students currently share the existing 20,500-square-foot building.

"The student body has been absolutely amazing," Spera said. "So has the staff that's working with us to figure out the best transitions, especially with like, pickup and drop off. I am so appreciative of all the parents, patients and the staffs patients and the students, and to have the big kids here on campus has been so special, as we've been able to even in just one week, see their interactions with the little ones. And you can just tell this is the right choice and the right move for our future."

Vincent Corina and Sophia Ellis, juniors from Troy, say they are already getting used to seeing elementary school students.

"Yeah, I enjoy sharing the building with the younger kids, because we'll just be sitting in class and we see him walk by, and they're all just looking up to us for what we do in our work and how we're just sitting there paying attention to the teacher," Corina said.

"I mean, it's interesting, because, you know, they walk across and like their little lines go into the playground wishes, you know, let's I bet and then we see them to the classrooms, like go into the playground, like laughing and that, but I think it's nice for them, because, you know, they'll be here in the future, you know, most of them gonna be in the same spot being where I am. And I mean, I'm not going to see them there, but they're probably going to experience like the school as it is, like a lot better. I'm not going to be here obviously, when it gets like fully rebuilt, fully revamped, but I think it should be a lot better for them. They're gonna have like all the athletic fields, all that like new buildings, new parts of it, where they have all the space, and that'd be great," said Ellis.

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.
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