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St. Joe’s Class of ’78: A reunion like no other

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

As many still mourn this spring’s closing of West New York’s only parochial high school, more than 100 alumni of St. Joseph’s of the Palisades Class of ’78 gathered to smile, cry and reminisce — but also to pay forward, by helping an area family in need.


The family would “feel some love” from the classmates who plan on bringing non-perishable foods to be given directly to the family or through the local food bank.

Of the 231 students in St. Joe’s Class of ’78, more than a third attended Saturday night’s reunion in Paramus.

READ THIS ACCOUNT FROM THAT NIGHT: A different kind of homecoming

Several alumni were together since kindergarten.


“We were a family,” said one of them, Deborah Jack. “Fathers painted the classrooms and mothers watched us when the teachers got sick. When we got sick, we went ‘upstairs to Sister George Marie (aka Mother Superior) and Mrs Sullivan. We sat at the kitchen table and they made us a cup of tea.”

Most of the Class of ’78 Blue Jays are second-generation Italian, Irish, Scottish, and Cuban. Several are first-generation immigrants. Others came from Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken — even Secaucus. Some still live in the area.

If St. Joe’s was about anything, Jack said, “it was acceptance and tolerance, long before it was cool to be politically correct.”

This part of the world — this 6th borough, if you will — still remains an immigrant magnet. And it’s so cool, no one seems in a rush to leave. So it warms you deep inside to see an eager group, all on the cusp of their 50s, bringing it all back home.

If you were part of that group — even if you aren’t going to the reunion — tell us what times were like at 54th and Broadway. We’ll collect them and have something posted on CLIFFVIEW PILOT in plenty of time Saturday for the reunion.

Please also remember to bring some type of non-perishable food. If you’re traveling far or are short on time, some supermarkets have gift cards.

As Maureen Lynch VanDerStad wrote: “….anything that you can think of that would help a person feel love and hope….If it’s hard to donate something at this time, share a note with an uplifting word.”

If that isn’t reason to look forward to a reunion, I don’t know what is.


The reunion, beginning around 6:30 Saturday night, is at the Elks Lodge, 200 N State Rt 17, Paramus, 201.262.5533. For more information: DMilanowycz@aol.com

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