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Final commencement at Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School

Most likely to recede: Last class leaves Bishop Ford

The Brooklyn Paper
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The final bells are tolling for a Catholic high school in Windsor Terrace.

Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School held its final commencement ceremony on Saturday, marking the end of 52 years of Catholic education in the neighborhood. The festivities were bittersweet, seniors said.

“I’m feeling pretty good, but it’s sort of sad, too,” said Joshua Wilson, who earned his diploma this weekend. “A lot of my teachers are left jobless at this point.”

Another senior shared the concern, but took her tutors’ newfound unemployment harder.

“I’m heartbroken,” said Cithera Hinds. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with the teachers — and they’re like my family.”

Hinds starts at Long Island University next year and wants to study nursing. She said her teachers helped her realize her next steps.

“They really helped me find myself and figure out what I wanted to do,” she said.

The Brooklyn Diocese opened the doors to Bishop Ford as an all-boys school in 1962. It is named for Francis X. Ford, a bishop who was killed in China 10 years before the school opened. The diocese ran the institution until 1976, when it ceded control to a board of directors that turned it coed.

Recent years had seen the school struggle to keep enrollment levels up, shrinking from 1,347 students in 2006 to 499 in 2014. This April, the school’s principal Thomas Arria informed students that because of a massive debt load and an even smaller enrollment total for the coming school year, Bishop Ford was going to close.

The announcement sent shock waves through the Bishop Ford community and brought alumni, students, and parents together to try to save their beloved school. The group rallied, pleaded with the diocese for help, and tried to work with the school’s board of directors to devise a plan to save the school, but nothing stuck.

The borough’s Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said the church did not have the money to bail out the school, which it had already lent more than $1 million, and fund-raising efforts by alumni only garnered $41,000 of a hoped-for $2 million.

Some parents say church and school leaders could have done more.

“We’re very disappointed. It was such a legacy,” said Francis Wilson, Joshua’s father. “It’s a shame. More effort could have been made by the diocese and the board of directors.”

Newly graduated students are happy to have a diploma and they say that, despite the doors closing on their alma mater, it will not soon be forgotten.

“The Ford Falcons will never die,” said Hinds. “We’ll always be around.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

marsha Rimler from Brooklyn says:
My guess… here come the condos.. more people.more taxes paid… not enough schools.library destruction
longer distances for emergency care
What is Happening here… Mr. Progressive Brad Lander
June 10, 2014, 1:26 pm
marsha Rimler from Brooklyn says:
oh i forgot.. Mr. phony progressive… you will be toast
June 10, 2014, 1:28 pm
Oliver from Sunset Park says:
The Diocese of Brooklyn owns the buildings and they don't exactly have a history of selling their property. It'll probably be rented, but not to become condos.
June 10, 2014, 2:09 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Make it into senior housing. More is desperately needed in Brooklyn.
June 10, 2014, 5:53 pm
The Chooch from The Age of Reason says:
Well, they could transfer to Al-Noor, try that out for a while.
June 10, 2014, 11:51 pm
Jbob from PS says:
PSers are hungry for more competitive middle and high school choices in the hood-my bets on leasing the building to the DOE
June 11, 2014, 4:26 pm
Joe from Gravesend says:
Some struggling Catholic high schools in the nation have converted to a classical type curriculum with an emphasis on classics, philosophy etc. and have prospered although they average 400 students or so. It would be perfect for the children of the more well to do moving into the area who could afford high tuition. it would have been worth a try. Disgrace that the school is closing and no one from Bishop DiMarzio to the previous boards of trustees really cared about keeping it open. They really screwed the kids. Sad all of the Catholic schools closing.
June 13, 2014, 11:12 pm
JohnThreetwenty from Mr.Rodgers' says:
The Diocese washed its hands of this toilet once it realized the amount of embezzlement and the myriad of pedophilia scandals that the old administration covered up for 30 years. Add in a new Brooklyn District Attorney who had not been enjoying a very cozy relationship with the board and just might not be predisposed to dismiss embezzlement as "non-intentional" and prosecute it. Or RICO indictments for those who knew and protected the resident child rapists.

Once they couldn't white wash all of the horrific crimes that occurred, it was only a matter of time.

The Brooklyn Diocese refused to be on the hook for millions in potential lawsuits by the victims of the school's pedophile. The last thing the Catholic Church wants is any more connections with perverts and criminals.

Give the place credit, they kept the child rape victims silenced so that very few people outside of the school ever knew. The kept the thefts and embezzlement going for decades thanks to no accounting records, a "close" relationship with the Joe Hynes. In the end even Jerry Sandusky's victims got justice, maybe there is still hope for Ford's.
June 18, 2014, 7:11 am
clancy from oldhood says:
filthy and corrupt the only words for this place
June 21, 2014, 10:32 am
BigToe from wt says:
This horror house should be leveled and the earth beneath it salted. Years on end of no accounting (and audits) because so much money was embezzled by dishonest ‘president.’ It is hard to imagine an institution without any accounting or control systems. Fact is, cads, hypocrites, quacks, incompetent teachers were all led by the nose by a gym ‘teacher’ stealing the school, community and children blind. Another feather in the cap for ‘catholic education’.
June 21, 2014, 9:26 pm
BlindinglightofGod from Pill Hill says:
When teachers were caught raping their students in Bishop Ford, Franciscan Brothers kept it all quiet and allowed the rapist to stay on for another 25 years- This is how other schools and The Bronx DA who was not enjoying a cozy and lucrative relationship with the rapist's school handled teachers that rape:

Former teacher in Bronx gets 14 years for rape of 10-year-old student in 2013
A prosecutor in Bronx Supreme Court read a heartbreaking letter from the young victim’s mother detailing how the attack by Anthony Criscuolo, 41, in the parking lot of Public School 386, has ruined her little girl’s life.
BY PETE BARRETT NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 1:38 AM




Ex-teacher Anthony Criscuolo was sentenced to 14 years in prison Monday for raping a 10-year-old student.
RICHARD HARBUS FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Ex-teacher Anthony Criscuolo was sentenced to 14 years in prison Monday for raping a 10-year-old student.
A former Bronx teacher was sentenced to 14 years in prison Monday for raping a 10-year-old student.

Anthony Criscuolo, 41, was sentenced in Bronx Supreme Court after a prosecutor read a heartbreaking letter from the young victim’s mother detailing how the attack has ruined her little girl’s life.

“My daughter used to love going to school. She cries every time I try to take her to therapy,” the mother wrote. “She walks with her head down because she feels like everyone knows who she is . . . she asks me to buy her sunglasses and hoodies to hide her face from others.”

The mom said she sometimes has to sleep with her daughter because the girl has nightmares about the attack.

“My daughter is taking her anger and frustrations out on her younger sister,” the mother wrote. “They used to be close, but now it’s like she doesn’t trust anybody.”

Criscuolo, a bodybuilder, pleaded guilty last month to raping the girl in Public School 386’s parking lot in April 2013 after tricking her family into thinking he was taking her to an academic awards ceremony.

He apologized in court to the victim Monday, saying, “My entire life is a nightmare. There isn’t a single day that goes by where I don’t feel pain. I am a shattered soul lost in the loneliness of life. In my dreams I hope and pray that I will be forgiven.”

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July 8, 2014, 5:29 am

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