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Diocese to close Catholic school in Astoria

"I'm upset. September would have been our 80th anniversary," said Sister Francis Marie Wystepek, principal of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr School at 90-01 101st Ave. in Ozone Park. "I feel sorry for the students but more so for the teachers. It will be very difficult for them to find new jobs." She said the diocese broke the news to the educators Monday, saying that rising costs and a bleeding student population would shutter 26 elementary schools in Brooklyn and Queens. Students at schools in Woodside, Sunnyside, Winfield, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Ozone park will be absorbed by neighboring parishes, said Michael J. Hardiman, vicar for education in the diocese. The other three schools in Astoria, Broad Channel and Rosedale, are closing without offering its charges a set option. "It just hit yesterday, we're all kind of numb about it," said Sandra Gabrielli, a secretary and a parent teacher coordinator at the Holy Cross School at 56-01 61st Street in Maspeth. "We just didn't think it was going to happen. We've been here since 1922." Holy Cross, like the other schools, has lost scores of students since 1999, seeing its enrollment drop from 259 to 151 in five years. St. Stanislaus in Ozone Park lost 57 in that same time, falling from 224 to 167. The losses cut into its finances, making it impossible to stay afloat, the principal said. "It's a matter of finances. We need to raise $100,000 to run the school next year," Wystepek said. "Needless to say, I'll be looking for a job too." The other pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade schools slated for closure are: ¥ St. Teresa's School at 50-15 44th Street in Woodside, which saw enrollment drop from 266 to 151 since 1999. Its students will be absorbed by St. Raphael's School in Long Island City. ¥ Queens of Angels School at 41-12 44th Street in Sunnyside, which lost 81 students in the past five years, bringing enrollment to down 149. Its students are going to St. Sebastian's School in Woodside. ¥ Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians School at 70-31 48th Ave. in Winfield, which lost 58 students in five years, dropping its student body to 132. It is also being consolidated with St. Sebastian's. ¥ Ascension School at 86-37 53rd Ave. in Elmhurst, which had a five-year enrollment decline of 77 students, from 222 to 145. Its students are going to St. Adalbert's School in Elmhurst. ¥ Our Lady of Mount Carmel School at 23-15 Newtown Ave. in Astoria, which lost 145 students in five years, shaving enrollment from 331 to 186. ¥ St. Virgilius School at 16 Noel Rd. in Broad Channel, which over five years lost 27 students bringing its total number to 142. ¥ St. Pius X School at 147-65 249th St. in Rosedale that lost 134 students since 1999, cutting enrollment from 241 to 132. Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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