Tonawanda News — Parents, teachers, students and supporters gathered in the parking lot of St. Francis of Assisi school Thursday in order to raise awareness and funds for their effort to keep the school open.
Supporters of the school have been working to keep it open since Bishop Malone announced in January that it would close along with nine other schools as part of a downsizing and revitalization project.
At the rally, parents, teachers and parishioners helped out however they could by working an information booth, running a bake sale and 50/50 raffle, and handing out lawn signs and car magnets.
Children and adults alike wore shirts that read “S.O.S. Save Our Schools” on the front and “We will not go quietly into the night” on the back.
Students in the choir dressed in the school’s color, green, and opened up the program by singing songs like “Brave” by Katy Perry, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, and “Home” by Phillip Phillips. The singing portion was capped off by a song written by Mary Saltarelli Knoerl, the chorus director, simply titled “The St. Francis song.”
The music selection was chosen to show the importance of the school to its community, and their determination to keep it open.
Tracy Dankanich, a parent with two daughters who are currently attending St. Francis, showed this passion for the St. Francis community.
“This is our home, this is our family,” Dankanich said. “Our kids have grown up here. This is it. And I think that Bishop Malone should take a lesson from Jesus when he said ‘if you have a grievance with your brother, take care of it before you go to the altar,’ and he hasn’t bothered to talk to us at all.”
Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick, spoke at the rally and noted two major flaws of closing down the school. Firstly, that the school is financially stable and secondly, that it is the last Catholic elementary school in the Twin Cities. This provides a special problem for parents who need to have their children bussed to school, as busses will not take children from the city into Catholic schools in other towns.