By MARY ANN POUST
Alumni of Power Memorial Academy will gather Saturday, March 13, for a special celebration: the unveiling of a sign designating the section of West 61st Street at Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan, where the school formerly stood, as Power Memorial Way.
The street was officially co-named last Dec. 28 with the signing of a bill by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at City Hall.
Power Memorial Academy for boys was founded in 1931 by the Congregation of Christian Brothers, who operated it until it closed in 1984. The school educated many boys from immigrant or first-generation families, and sent many to college who were the first in their families to attain higher education.
The day's events will begin with the annual Mass of Remembrance for deceased faculty, staff and alumni at St. Paul the Apostle Church, 59th Street and Ninth Avenue, at 11:30 a.m. The celebrant will be Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Walsh, Class of '59, who is rector of St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie.
Ceremonies will follow at 1:45 p.m. for the unveiling of the street sign and the dedication of a plaque that honors the Congregation of Christian Brothers and the teachers and alumni of Power Memorial. The school stood on the northeast corner of 61st St. and Amsterdam Avenue, and the plaque will be mounted on an exterior rear wall at Fordham University's Lincoln Center campus.
Taking part in the ceremonies will be U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York's 7th District and former New York City Council speaker Peter Vallone, who are both Power Memorial alumni. Also participating will be City Council member Gale A. Brewer of District 6 on the Upper West Side. She was the principal sponsor of the bill to co-name the street.
Ms. Brewer told CNY that she is "delighted" to see Power Memorial Way become a reality.
"There's a huge group of alumni who care deeply about their school," she said. "They offer scholarships and support for students in other Catholic schools." She noted that former Power Memorial alumni include both the famous—such as basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—and also "professionals and scholars who are regular folks who care very much about the place and the history and the camaraderie they formed there."
Power Memorial was famous for its basketball program and produced several players who went on to become All-Americans.
The school and its band also marched each year in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan. In 2004, with the permission of the parade committee, alumni marched in the parade as a group for the first time since the school's closing. The alumni association was formally established that year.
The commemorative plaque describes Power Memorial as "an icon of high school education and sports" that "provided New York City and our country with many distinguished business, entertainment, religious, political and sports leaders."
Sean E. Crowley, a member of the alumni association's board, told CNY, "It's important to recognize the impact of Power Memorial Academy that is still felt, and the influence of the Christian Brothers...in creating fine leaders for our city and country."
The alumni created a scholarship fund to help pay the tuition for one student from each of two other schools operated by the Christian Brothers: Rice High School in Manhattan and All Hallows High School in the Bronx.