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Bridges Academy gives hope to students, staff of soon-to close St. Peter's

Parents and staff heartbroken over the planned closure of St. Peter's by-the-Sea Day School in Bay Shore have found new hope in the grand opening of a new independent school in West Islip.

When Bridges Academy opens on the South Shore next fall, most of the same staff and many of the same students will be there.

Students in preschool through 8th grade will attend Bridges, to open in September as a fully independent, federally recognized not-for-profit, with state Board of Education accreditation. The school came through a grassroots effort led by educators and parents and a broad community base.

"This is fulfilling a niche in our community," said Molly Hays-Jette, a parent of two children who were at St. Peter's and a board member at Bridges.

She said nearly all the staff from St. Peter's will be employed at Bridges, where the current head of school at St. Peter's, Frank Fallon, will serve as headmaster.

Founders of the school are leasing a West Islip elementary school recently closed by the district.

Governance of the school will be by an independent board of educators and parents and community members.

Class sizes will be capped at 18. Fluency in foreign languages is a cornerstone of the Bridges curriculum.

Officials of St. Peter's by-the-Sea Day School in Bay Shore had announced in December that the 40-year-old academy, with students in kindergarten through 7th grade, would close in June.

An affiliated preschool program will continue to operate. Officials of the school run by St. Peter's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church said shrinking enrollment and finances drove the decision.

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