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A rally to save Sayville Catholic school

Parents and students protest the decision by the

Parents and students protest the decision by the Rockville Center Diocese to close Prince of Peace Regional Catholic School in Sayville. (Dec. 10, 2011) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

More than 200 parents and children chanted and waved signs Saturday outside a Sayville Catholic school that is scheduled to close because of declining enrollment.

Cars honked in support as they drove by the demonstrators at Prince of Peace Regional Catholic School on Main Street.

"It's sad that they're going to break them up and send them to different schools," said Joan Caruso-Morris, 42, an accountant from Selden. Her son Danny, 9, a fourth-grader, held a sign that read, "All I want for Christmas is to be able to stay at Prince of Peace 'til eighth grade."

Organizers said that at 9:30 a.m., they had counted 252 protesters.

Prince of Peace is one of six Long Island Catholic grammar schools that the Diocese of Rockville Centre announced it would be closing in June.

The others are St. John Baptist De LaSalle Regional School in Farmingdale, St. Catherine of Sienna Elementary School in Franklin Square, St. Ignatius Loyola School in Hicksville, Sacred Heart Parochial School in North Merrick and Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Lindenhurst.

In Sayville Saturday, parents circulated a pledge and asked for signatures stating they would keep their children enrolled at the school. Parents said they hope the diocese gives them a chance to improve enrollment.

Parents at Sacred Heart in North Merrick also met Saturday to discuss ways to try to keep their school open.

Patrick McGrory, 45, an East Meadow attorney with two sons at the school, said they planned to start last evening at Masses, asking parishioners for support and to sign a petition to keep the school open.

McGrory said enrollment at the school, which he attended, is on the upswing; and parents hope to meet with Bishop William Murphy to make their case. "We're not giving up," he said.

Newsday reported last week that enrollments at the six schools had declined significantly, ranging from 24 percent to 70 percent in the past 11 years.

"Parents are upset, and it is understandable," Diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan said Saturday.

"It's a very sad situation to have to close a Catholic school. However, it is necessary sometimes to make difficult decisions like this for the betterment of Catholic education across Long Island."

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