Diocesan News

Alumnae Get to See DC One Last Time

By Priscilla DeMarinis-Ramos

1954 graduates Linda Casciolla, left, and Marie Guarino, are reunited.
Carol Smykowski is seen with Sister Regina Rosaire, O.P., who taught business subjects.
The statue of St. Dominic outside the former Dominican Commercial (DC) H.S., Jamaica.

Chaucer once told us, “All good things must come to end,” but are we ever really prepared? We were invited back to our alma mater on April 22 for one last walk through the building that once housed Dominican Commercial H.S., Jamaica. Graduates from the 1940s to the 1990s were represented.

It is sad to know that the stately building on 89th Ave. will no longer be the property of the Dominican Sisters. However, the sale is less painful since the proceeds will subsidize the needs of the retired Sisters who have given us so much.

The all-girls school, which opened in 1936, had been considered a premier high school that provided skilled women to fill secretarial positions in major corporations. An academic program was also in place for those who wished to proceed onto college, and as is the practice in finishing schools, the Sisters taught us the social graces.

More importantly, the Sisters stressed appreciation of our Catholic faith and that it should guide us in our adult lives. The echoes of what we were told would remain with us forever – that people require structure in their lives, that children feel loved if they are disciplined and that the breakdown of family life would influence the state of our country.

They wisely sponsored activities where we could socialize with the parents of our classmates, like the Father-Daughter Communion-breakfast, the Mother-Daughter Graduation Luncheon and many more. We also enjoyed the just-us-girls events. Who but the Dominican Sisters could chaperone eight buses of energetic, adolescent girls for a senior trip to Washington, D.C., and still maintain order!

Some of the alumnae shared remembrances: Linda Biancanello recalled being voted Miss Candy Cane during her first Christmas Pageant at DC; Esther Salorio felt that the nuns fostered a sense of sisterhood among the students; Carol Smykowski said she was in stenography class when Sister Lawrence Joseph, O.P., principal, announced that President Kennedy has been assassinated in 1963; Jean Alfano said she pursued a teaching career because of the influence of the Dominican Sisters; and Lois Burke was remembered for her portrayal of Puck in the school’s production of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”

We all came away with a wealth of memories and will always consider ourselves privileged to have been part of a student body that received a unique and thorough Catholic education.

Truly, at Dominican Commercial, it was not only the beauty of the building that shaped our lives, but also the lessons learned from those remarkable women – the Sisters of St. Dominic.