Looking Back On The Good Ol’ Days

New school built in 1955

Whether they graduated one year ago or 50, St. Brigid/Our Lady of Hope School alums all share a deep love for the place that formed their early education. It was where they learned the alphabet, grew in their faith and were molded into people of character. Here, St. Brigid’s alum look back on what stood out to them about those wonderful K-8 years.

I started at the old school, then went to the new school, then it got so crowded that I went to the Annex, and then I came back to the new school. In eight years I was in four different places. It was a lot of moving. We were with the same kids for eight years and you had really good, lasting friendships. When I graduated, half of us went to Catholic school, half went to public. We were well-rounded. We used to eat in the classroom and our mothers used to come in during lunch time to give the nuns a break.

—Rosemary Reilly, Class of 1961

There are still a lot of things I learned at St. Brigid’s so long ago, while there are things in high school and college I have no recollection of at all. Back in those days at St. Brigid’s you learned. [You learned] things of character. The curriculum, some items like American history and that sort, but mainly character. The nuns were adamant on you becoming a real person. A good person.

—Frank Telese, Class of 1959

Frances Zaino Smith

I thought the education was very good. We were far advanced in grammar and math. I found that very easy because of the background I got at St. Brigid’s. I remember all my nuns. They were beautiful and very, very nice. I took music lessons from them.

I have fond memories of my years at St. Brigid’s. I was always first in line because of my size, but last in line because of my name. I remember every first Friday, we would march to the hall and have raisin muffins and coffee and would go to church. Every first Friday, it was a ritual.

—Frances Zaino Smith, Class of 1938

My time at St. Brigid’s truly was a high point in my formative years and set the cornerstone for a life of community service and stewardship. It’s where I first began to nurture my relationship with God. It’s where I first had opportunities to explore experiences in athletics and music. Where my family and I made meaningful, lifelong friends and where I learned the depth of love for others, outside of family. I treasure the bonds made during that time to this day. I am truly thankful to St. Brigid’s for helping to lay the foundation for who I am.

—Legislator Siela Bynoe, Class of 1981

Peter Cavallaro

My experience at St. Brigid’s was wonderful, as was my entire childhood growing up in Westbury.

I remember how kind and patient my teachers were, especially Sister Anne Marie, my second grade teacher, who helped me to learn to love school and learning. I spent eight years with many of my classmates and made lifelong friendships (now mostly virtual) that I remember with great fondness. Mostly, though, in addition to the great foundational education I received, my time at St. Brigid School solidified the connection I received from my parents to my Catholic faith, which has sustained me throughout my life. While I recognize the importance of a strong and effective public school system, because of my own experience at St. Brigid, I remain a firm believer in and supporter of Catholic education for those who want that for their children.

—Mayor Peter Cavallaro, Class of 1975

Legislator Laura Schaefer

What I loved about my time at St. Brigid’s school was the guidance and support we received from the staff as well as how spirituality and faith were always at the center of our educational experience. Specifically, learning the Golden Rule, which says to “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” has been, by far, the most important lesson I could have ever learned as a child. Even in the most challenging of times, I have found that living by this principle not only enables me to connect with others more easily but also helps me to always feel good about who I am and the choices I make.

—Legislator Laura Schaefer, Class of 1982

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Kimberly Dijkstra is the web editor for Anton Media Group and contributing writer to Long Island Weekly.

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