Joseph Reitano and Patrick Gaudet shared stories to show little has changed through the years at St. Peter’s Boys High School on Staten Island.
The school celebrated its 100th anniversary with a Centennial Mass celebrated at St. Peter’s Church Oct. 22 by Cardinal Dolan with Auxiliary Bishop John O’Hara, followed by a gala attended by 700 people at Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island.
John Fodera, president of the school, was honored for his 50 years of service to the school, and the late Msgr. James Dorney, a longtime pastor of St. Peter’s and co-vicar of Staten Island, was remembered for his more than 30 years of service to the school. Comedian Joe Piscopo was the master of ceremonies, “singing policeman” Daniel Rodriguez performed the National Anthem, and the original Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys” performed for 45 minutes.
St. Peter’s, which has 550 students, was founded by the De La Salle Christian Brothers in 1917.
“St. Peter’s definitely molded me into the man I am today,” said Reitano, a senior, in an interview with CNY. “It really taught me how to be accountable for anything I’ve done in helping myself and others.
“St. Peter’s is a close-knit community. We’re not a big school, and we all know each other. There are no words to describe how great a school it is and how close everyone in the school is. It’s just an amazing place. Years from now, I’m going to open a yearbook and have stories about every single person.’’
Gaudet, who is also a senior, mentioned how he believes the size of the school benefits students academically.
“I like the small size because you get to know the teachers,” Gaudet said. “The teachers care about the students, and it’s made my experience so much better. I’m in the scholars program, and it’s the toughest program here. The classes are tough, but the teachers will stay after class or after school to help me.”
St. Peter’s students are required to do community service each quarter, and Gaudet said his volunteer work each year at the Staten Island Polar Plunge for Special Olympics New York means a lot to him.
“I have a cousin who has special needs, and it raises money and awareness for them,” he said. “(Community service) has taught me a lot about helping others in the community.”
Michael Cosentino, a 2003 graduate of St. Peter’s, is in his first year as principal of St. Peter’s after serving for five years as dean of discipline and one year as a guidance counselor.
“There is a great tradition here,” Cosentino said. “The tradition I experienced as a student was instrumental in my life. It’s giving and sharing the same experience and life lessons I had here. It’s continuing that tradition and evolving with modern landscape and education.”
Fodera is school president in charge of public relations and fund-raising after serving as school principal for 27 years. The 1962 graduate of St. Peter’s also served as a teacher, chairman of the history department, dean of discipline and assistant principal before becoming principal in 1990.
“I think it’s the family atmosphere and the camaraderie that exists on a daily basis,’’ said Fodera, who said the school had between 500 and 600 students throughout his tenures as principal and student.
“It’s a warm, congenial atmosphere. You get so much more than you give when you work with these kids. I never felt I was going to work at St. Peter’s.”
Fodera said St. Peter’s started a fund-raising campaign a few weeks ago to raise $5 million and has already raised about $2 million.
“The future of the school is in good hands financially and academically,” Fodera said. “I feel we are very strong. What we are trying to do is set this endowment and secure it for families in the future. This endowment is going to make a difference in children’s lives who could not afford to get an education here.”