Alumni Testimonials

“I am a proud product of Catholic education in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Thirty-one years ago, the same year Futures in Education was founded, I graduated from the former St. Michael’s School, presently known as Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Academy in Flushing, Queens. I have many fond memories of my eight years at this small parish school. Although St. Michael’s is no longer my home parish, I still practice my faith and attend Mass regularly. The education I received has provided me with a solid foundation to approach my life from a Christian perspective. Indeed, the benefits of a Catholic education are priceless and immeasurable.

My strongest subject in school was English language arts. I was taught the fundamentals of the English language from parts of speech to the different types of sentences to the verb tenses. I also learned how to write grammatically correct sentences and how to be a proficient speller. I recall receiving a new list of ten spelling words at the beginning of every week and being asked to write it ten times each, provide a definition for each and to use each new word in a sentence. This technique not only helped me to improve my spelling but also helped me to develop a stronger vocabulary. I developed a passion for writing and English grammar at St. Michael’s. There is a saying that ” the pen is mightier than the sword.” To this day, I still enjoy putting pen to paper as an effective way to express myself.

I have vivid memories of Ms. Horel teaching us to write cursive (script) in the second grade. When I encountered difficulty with some of the letters, I distinctly remembered her placing her hand over my right hand and guiding me as to the strokes that I needed to make to write certain characters correctly. She helped me to appreciate writing in cursive. In fact, scientific research shows that learning to write in cursive improves brain development in the areas of thinking, language, and working memory. Cursive handwriting stimulates the brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres, something absent from printing and typing. Unfortunately, cursive writing is a dying art and it is a shame that schools don’t place strong emphasis on cursive writing anymore.

My love for music was also developed at St. Michael’s. So much so, that I joined the high school choir after I graduated from St. Michael’s. I remember learning and singing two of my favorite hymns, “Here I am, Lord” and “Gift of Finest Wheat” from Mrs. Espinosa, my eighth-grade teacher and former missionary nun. It was St. Augustine who said “he who sings prays twice.” It’s no wonder I have been blessed so greatly in my life.

Another lasting memory of my times at St. Michael’s was the math and spelling bees that were held. I loved these competitions because there is a competitive streak in me. While I never won a math bee, I did win a spelling bee in eighth grade much to my delight and the envy of my classmates.

Finally, to end on a light note, I enjoyed playing dodge ball in physical education class. Dodge ball was a great way for me to release my excess energy as adolescent. While I was usually one of the last kids picked to be for a team. I nevertheless enjoyed the camaraderie of my classmates.

I credit Catholic education and, of course, my parents for the person I have become today.”

– Jason Chang
Class of 1989

My Years at St. Michael’s School; 1961-1969
by Arthur Molins
originally published in the Sesquicentennial Journal

          September 1961, perhaps a date hidden innocuously in the “Old Millennium”, seemingly a lifetime ago, was a milestone for me, marking the beginning of a new life, in a new country, in a new school.

          Like it has for so many immigrants throughout its history, this benevolent country extended its arms to our family as we fled the oppression in Cuba and sought refuge in America in order to live, work, and worship freely. As soon as we had settled in Flushing in August of that year, my mother registered me at St. Michael’s School. I vividly recall my initial visit to the school on a hot August day in order to enroll in the first grade class. The first person to meet us was Sister Muriel Ignatia whose warm smile and demeanor made me feel welcome. Sister gave us a grand tour of the “St. Michael’s complex”. The school itself was not very different from its current appearance; everything else has changed dramatically. The new church was under construction and the old St. Michael’s Church was still standing and in use. The rectory stood on 41st Avenue across the street from the school. It was a lovely old building with spacious gardens and a grotto of the Virgin Mary. The Convent was located on the acres of property between Barclay and Sanford Avenues and extended all the way to Kissena Boulevard.

          Like many first graders, I faced the first day of school with much trepidation. Not only was I in a totally new environment, I had one other obstacle to overcome, no hablo espanol. Sister Florentina, our first grade teacher, was a caring, patient, and sweet person, the perfect combination for someone seeking understanding and acceptance. The first few days flew by, I adapted rather quickly thanks in great part to my classmates and teacher and a large dose of television. I do recall one incident that is indicative of the foibles one endures in learning a new language. Sister Florentine repeatedly scolded one fidgety young boy and admonished him to “stand-still”, stand-still”. After class, desiring to start up a conversation and perhaps a friendship with the boy, I approached him and believing that Sister had been calling him by his name, opened with “Hello, Stand”. Well it turned out his name was Kevin, not Stand, and Stand, er, Kevin and I are close friends to this day.

           In May of 1962, many of us in the first grade became the last group to receive their First Holy Communion in the old St. Michael’s Church. I vividly recall walking up the aisle of the Church which had long narrow aisles, was very dark inside and was supported by scaffolding throughout its interior.

          During that time I also recall witnessing the installation of the steeple on the new church. We spent the better part of one day in Sister Florentina’s 

          By the end of the first grade, I was fairly fluent in English, had assimilated American customs and began a lifelong relationship with another newcomer to the metropolitan area, the New York Mets.

          Gradually, a small Cuban community emerged in Flushing and names such as Menendez, Garcia and Rodriguez joined the Browns’, O’Neills’, Lynchs’, Costellos’ and Bradys’ in the rosters of St. Michael’s School. The St. Michael’s community opened its hearts and supported our transition into the American way of life. We shall always be grateful for that support.

         Life in the 1960’s for the students at St. Michael’s was tranquil although the world was on the verge of turbulent times. It was an innocent era for the youth of St. Michael’s. Life was simpler. Time seemed to stand still. The childhood years extended longer than they do now. There was no fleeting sense urgency to “grow-up-fast”. Free time was spent playing baseball in makeshift ballparks around town. Community life centered on St. Michael’s with CYO sports, Boy Scouts, St. Michael’s Archangels (the school band), and Altar Boys among others, creating further opportunities for development.

originally published in the Sesquicentennial Journal

          Many years have passed since the WWII years of 1941 to 1945, which I spent attending St. Michael’s School from which I graduated in 1944. I do have some strong memories of WWII and the sacrifices of the Armed Forces and the Civilian population. During this time of rationing food items, rubber and most metal products, we as students in our teens helped and supported the War effort in many ways.

          We contributed by buying liberty stamps (I believe they were 10 cents) once a week and applied them to a booklet, which when filled were applied to a War Bond. We also went door to door collecting metal products to be processed for manufacturing products for the War effort. They were constant reminders of the loss of life of our Alumni and neighborhood sons by thee announcements during the daily Masses  We had a visit of a Sailor, who told us about his boot camp training. He had graduated from St. Michael’s years earlier, and wanted to visit the Sisters of St. Michael’s before he went overseas. He spoke to each class in the school and I was excited to hear him speak. I would have enlisted if I were old enough.

          We would follow the War through the newspapers, movie theatres and the radio. I still remember December 7 ,1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. It was a Sunday while visiting my Aunts in Brooklyn and listening to a music station, when a report broke into the program about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor.

          This was most upsetting and I wondered why any country would want to attack the United States. I know now how immature my way of thinking was at the age of 11 years old. We were not  political at that age and the President of the United States was our leader regardless of his political party, especially being our Commander in Chief during the War years. My father was a Deputy Air Raid Warden during the war years and I was so proud of him.

         As teens we were not affected by the Wars as most grownups, as they had a responsibility of earning a living, supporting the family and the War effort. We played war games with some of the bad guys (the  Axis) and some being the good guys (Americans). Naturally everyone wanted to be the good guys, so we would take turns being good and bad.

          At lunchtime we still ran around the schoolyard, playing tag, and racing against each other. It was determined who would be the head of the class by who was the faster runner. It seems strange now when I try to ascertain why we had that rule. We did cast a vote for Captain of our baseball team, and the President of the Altar Boy Society. I was surprised to be voted into both of those positions, and it was not because of being one of the speedier guys.

          I don’t think we understood the reality and seriousness of what was going on in Europe and Asia, where people were being killed. Death was not in our thoughts, and it was horrific events in a far away part of the world. We were reminded if the War’s tragedy everyday in the periodicals, but our country was fortunately well protected by the two Oceans. I realized the reality of the War when I was in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany from 1949 to 1952. I saw the destruction of the cities, which had not been fully rebuilt four years after the war ended. When I left in 1952 some of these same cities were still being rebuilt.

          This is my memory, and how I believed most of my classmates felt during the War Years in St. Michael’s.

Anthony Cardone
Class of 1944

originally published in the Sesquicentennial Journal       

  I remember the playground, it looks so small now but it seemed big then. There was a big old tree just outside the fence on the Union Street side. St. Michael’s had  a soup and sandwich lunch for the poorer kids. I think the city provided the food and my mother worked for the school and served the lunch. Lots of us were embarrassed to get our lunch rather than bringing our lunch as the better-off kids did.

Fr. William O’Rourke
Class of 1941 

originally published in the Sesquicentennial Journal

          Sr. Anna Regina was the principal and Sr. Margaret Giralda was in 7th grade. Sr. Rose Patrice in 5th and Ms. Wick in 3rd grade. I remember the sisters as strict.

         On Monday afternoons the whole school went over to church for the Miraculous Medal Novena and benediction. Then again on Wednesday afternoon the public school kids came for release time. The St. Michael’s kids went over to church to sing hymns for Sunday 9AM Mass. That Mass was a strict obligation. NO-SHOWS had to bring a letter to school on Monday with an excuse. We had to fast from midnight then and I remember sometimes feeling faint during Mass on hot days. I remember especially the Blessed Virgin Sodality. We used to dress in white and process to church for the May Crowning of Our Blessed Mother. I loved those processions.

         My memories of St. Michael’s are good. Lining up in the schoolyard…the big brass band bell. School was free for parishioners I think. There were no buses. We always walked to school. I don’t remember any snow days

Kay Hackinson
Class of 1949