St. Francis Prep builds future one step at a time
Less than two weeks after the dedication of the new Vince O’Connor Physical Education and Athletic Training Center and Arts Education Center, St. Francis Prep took the first steps toward the next phase of the school’s $30 million improvement plan – literally.
The Queens school hosted its first-ever Walk-a-Thon to raise money for a three-story addition for science and music Friday morning with all 2,650 students participating in the four-mile walk.
“It’s great that the kids are doing something for their school,” said St. Francis Prep president Bro. Leonard Conway. “You could see the spirit out here today is unbelievable.”
In previous years, St. Francis Prep raised money through chance book drives, but Bro. Robert Kent, the school’s alumni director and varsity baseball coach, saw other schools run successful walk-a-thons and thought it would be a great idea for St. Francis Prep.
“Today’s event was talked about five years ago and it finally came to fruition,” said Sal Fischetti, the school’s athletic director. “For the first time out, we did OK. We’ll meet and discuss it and we can do better next time.”
With the school’s Jazz Ensemble playing and cheerleaders on hand, there was a pep rally feel to event.
“It definitely helps school spirit,” senior Natalie Pruden said. “Everyone looked like they had a good time, everyone was supportive.”
According to St. Francis Prep director of development Bob Angeletti, the Walk-a-Thon will likely raise $250,000, much more successful than the previous chance book drives. Each student was required to secure at least $100 in sponsorships and there were prizes for those who raised the most money.
“We expect to raise about $1 million from this event over the next four or five years,” Angeletti said. “It’s going to primarily involve the students getting sponsorships. For a first ever try at this, it worked out pretty well.”
While the science program regularly churns out Intel semifinalists, according to Conway, Angeletti said the music department recently received a prestigious distinction.
“Our music department received the first-ever Middle States Association accreditation for a particular department at the high school level,” he said. “We’re very proud of them.”
Those students will benefit greatly from the next phase of improvement at the school. And the first of what will be an annual walk-a-thon at St. Francis Prep helped begin the fund-raising for what is expected to be a $10 million project.
It was a chance for the students to give back while still at the school.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the students got out of classes on a gorgeous fall morning and had a half-day on a Friday in front of a long weekend.
“It was more fun because we were walking with our friends, talking and raising money,” junior Kelly Flynn said. “It was nice. Everyone walked together.”
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