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A special ride for Molloy HS: Students, staff take private subway to celebrate 50th anniversary

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The Catholic high school sent nearly all of its student body and faculty to St. Patrick's Cathedral on April 9 for a special thanksgiving mass in honor of its golden anniversary.The event was unique for the school as it partnered with the Police Department and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to transport nearly 1,300 of the 1,550-student body, along with teachers and chaperones, from Briarwood to Manhattan in a donated subway train."We decided to do this long ago, because to try to move nearly 1,600 people in buses in New York City is almost an impossible task," said the school's president, John Sherry.The school paid the MTA $4,000 to rent the eight-car train, which transit officials said could accommodate 2,400 straphangers. Students, who live all over the city and Long Island, walked through Main Street and Queens Boulevard around 9 a.m. to enter the Briarwood/Van Wyck station in an organized line.The 9-12 graders were comfortable during the 45-minute trip as they sat and stood anxiously for the big event."I think this is kind of special for us," said senior Charlotte Barrett, 18. "It's a very community-organized school."Officers from the 102nd Precinct, transit police and Midtown North Precinct helped the crowd move into and out of the subway to their destination. For some students, the trip was particularly special for them as they never had set foot in the 150-year-old cathedral before."It's just not something you'd think you'd see on an ordinary day of school," said senior Stephen Romano, 17.Some students, who arrived at the church earlier on charter buses, lent a helping hand by serving as eucharistic ministers, lectors and choir members. The 55-minute mass was celebrated by eight alumni who were priests, and they too were amazed with the celebration."This is a lot different than in our gymnasium in Queens," said the Rev. Frank Shannon, the main celebrant.Molloy was formerly St. Anne's Academy in Manhattan, which was founded as an all boy's school in 1892 by the Catholic order Marist Brothers. Over the years, the number of students, known as "St. Anners" or "Stanners," grew tremendously as the school's academic curriculum and athletic programs became popular.In the 1950s, Brooklyn Archbishop Thomas Molloy offered the brothers a chance to move into a larger, newer six-acre building. They accepted the offer. When it opened in the fall of 1957, St. Anne's was renamed in honor of Molloy, who died shortly before the opening.In 2000, the school's administrators changed their longtime admissions policy and started admitting boys alongside girls. Molloy has many notable graduates, including NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, whom Sherry said helped coordinate the day."This was a great honor for our school," Sherry said outside the cathedral.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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