2009-10-15 / Top Stories

Last Dance Reunites Holy Family School Graduates

By Jason Linetsky

Sister Mary Matthew with two former students. Sister Mary Matthew with two former students. Diane Galarza-Draiss and Victoria Lorelli Lessell, Class of ‘86, welcomed over 300 alumni to Saturday’s Last Dance at Holy Family School at Flatlands Avenue and Rockaway Parkway.

“We found each other on Facebook and from there we found a whole bunch of people that we hadn’t seen or spoken to in years so we put together a reunion to raise money for the church.”

The crowd spanned the six-decade history of the school — 1955 until 2008 — including some who came from all over the U.S. and even traveled here from overseas to attend a special mass to celebrate the school and to bless the reunion.

To accomplish the fundraising efforts, a silent auction was held, including various statues and crosses as well as a picture of Pope John Paul II blessing the school, and a verbal auction for a painting of the school from the lobby and a chandelier.

Sister Mary Matthew was one of the busiest teachers at the reunion as many students and former colleagues came to chat with her.

“I taught in ‘61 and ‘62 then ‘75 and ’76,” she said. “I started teaching 8th grade and came back for 7th grade. It was a joy to work here and teach these students.”

The sentiment was echoed as many former students toured classrooms and other areas of the school as they recalled stories of their youth with old friends.

Canarsien Jimmy Diele was the guest DJ for the evening and drew alumni to the school’s gymnasium by playing classic oldies that the former students boogied to throughout the evening as they enjoyed a smorgasbord of tasty dishes and desserts while they reminisced with classmates and teachers.

The Holy Family School recently closed and the building is slated to be used as a charter school by the city’s Department of Education.

As they exited their old school, Galarza-Draiss and Lessell were happy with the success of the event and talked about the possibility of future reunions.

See more reunion photos on page 24.

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