Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger (third from l.) is flanked by Giovanni Virgiglio, diocesan superintendent of schools (second from l.), and Richard Harrigan, interim upper school administrator, Father Brian Kelly, pastor of St. Ambrose, Lily Spera, lower school principal, and students just before the ribbon cutting. (Photo provided)
Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger (third from l.) is flanked by Giovanni Virgiglio, diocesan superintendent of schools (second from l.), and Richard Harrigan, interim upper school administrator, Father Brian Kelly, pastor of St. Ambrose, Lily Spera, lower school principal, and students just before the ribbon cutting. (Photo provided)
1
2
3
4
5
What started as just a dream is finally a reality.

The Diocese of Albany celebrated a trailblazing milestone on  Sept. 15 when Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger officially opened and blessed Catholic Central School (CCS), the Diocese’s first regional pre-K through Grade 12 school in Latham, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility.

“What an exciting day to come together for this symbolic opening of our brand new school, which is a representation of the power of partnership and when we think creatively and outside the box,” said Giovanni Virgiglio, diocesan superintendent of schools. “This is a tangible example of when we think creatively together.”

The new school opened for the fall semester on Sept. 8 as a merger between St. Ambrose School in Latham (pre-K to 5th grade) and Catholic Central High School in Lansingburgh (6th-12th grade.) After the closing of Catholic High last year, students and faculty moved to St. Ambrose’s 19-acre Latham campus that holds St. Ambrose School and Parish. School officials now say that CCS has 385 students enrolled for the fall.

“I’m so proud to be here,” Bishop Scharfenberger said. “And as Dr. Virgiglio reminded us, this is about something new, which shouldn’t surprise us because it’s about what God is doing in us. Catholic means universal, and we are universal in our outreach, in our curriculum, in every aspect of what we do.”

Lily Spera, lower school principal, Richard Harrigan, interim upper school administrator, Father Brian Kelly, pastor of St. Ambrose Parish, and Michael Tolan, director for advancement for CCS and former principal for Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, also attended the ribbon cutting.

“We are just celebrating our one-week opening and we could not be more excited to share this special evening with you,” Spera said. “Our first Mass together was the mind-blowing event (where we said) ‘This was the right thing.’ ”

CCS will continue to be expanded in phases over the next few years. The school is currently broken down into wings with multiple entrances that enable administrators to keep three distinct age groups: pre-K and kindergarten, Grades 1-5 and Grades 6-12 — separated during the school day.

Mark Ayotte, whose daughter is a senior at CCS, was excited about the new school opening: “I feel like this is just step one,” he said. “I think that what’s coming, and what this opens the doors for, is the real stuff in my mind.”

Kristen Campito, an academic intervention specialist at St. Ambrose, enrolled both of her two children in Catholic Central School. Both of her kids were enrolled in St. Ambrose prior to the merger, which came at a good time for Campito.

“We live in Clifton Park and I was getting to a point where (my daughter) Gracie is going to be going to middle school in the next few years … and I was torn” on where to send her, Campito said. “When this was announced it was like a weight was lifted off my chest. And one of the first things my daughter said to me was, ‘I never have to leave.’ So it was really very exciting.”