The Power Story
It all began in 1909, when Monsignor Power of All Saints Parish petitioned the Christian Brothers of Ireland to come to New York and teach the boys in his parish in a new parochial grade school. He asked for them since he felt that other teaching orders knew little about Ireland or Irish history, and he reasoned that they would be unsuitable since all his parishioners were of Irish birth or Irish descent.
Three years later the good Brothers were requested to open a High School in the Parish. After careful consideration, a building was secured at 15 West 124th Street and the new school was named All Hallows. The school was fabulously successful and the attendance increased every year, and finally it occupied 5 adjoining buildings. Finally, in 1931, the Brothers moved to their new building at 164th Street and Walton Avenue.
Enter Power Memorial Academy
Many voices requested that that they make use of the old buildings at 124th Street. So insistent were the requests for decent education, the Brothers listened. With the approval of the Archbishop of New York and the Superior-General of their order, a new community took residence there.
On September 16, 1931, Brother E. F. Ryall led the pioneering community and as a fitting memorial to the great man who invited the brothers to this country, they named it Power Memorial Academy after Monsignor Power, who had died in 1926.
On Monday, September 21, 1931, Power Memorial opened its doors for the first time to thirty-one first year students who had wisely chosen their new High School.
A Piece of Power Memorial History
Here is a remarkable piece of Power Memorial Academy History. Having opened its doors in 1931, the first graduation class would naturally be in 1935. This, then, is the actual diploma of a student in that glorious first graduation class in the history of Power Memorial Academy. This document belongs to Robert Shearn, Class of '35â€¦who, incidentally, was in the Position of Honor in "Power's Return" in the 2003 St. Patrick's Day Parade, and Robert also successfully completed the entire march.
Following this event, the first Graduation in Power Memorial History, there would to be no stopping 'The Purple and Gold' from going on to bigger and better things.
Imagine the pride felt by one and allâ€¦Student Body and Faculty at the end of the wonderful day, May 31, 1935.
Power Needs Larger Quarters
Eventually, the same fate befell Power that had befallen All Hallowsâ€¦the walls were too small to hold the new enrollment.
Where could they go? Day by day the situation grew more desperate until finally a piece of property on the West Side was brought to their attention, which belonged to a hospital and was no longer being used. In 1938, the Brothers purchased the hospital and moved into their new quarters at 161 West 61st Street, which is the building the majority of us recall with so much pride. Quite a few of the students were born there in its hospital days, and even some of the Brothers. (The buildings Power vacated eventually housed Rice High School.)
The Luck of the Irish
To go back a few years, the scene is now set at March 17, 1936. Power Memorial is represented by its entire student body who are about to march for the first time in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, which still is, as it was at the time of its beginning a demonstration of faith in God and of loyalty to the traditions of the Irish. Power Memorial did very well in that very first effort, since His Eminence Patrick Cardinal Hayes subsequently wrote concerning them: "The young men were a real inspiration and their excellent appearance in the march was the occasion of most favorable comment."
Power was represented in the St. Patrick's Day Parade every year after that right up until its closure with one notable differenceâ€¦thereafter, only the Seniors marched on that great day.
A Sad Day in the History of Power Memorial
"Mad gunman kills boy here, wounds six before capture," screamed the front page of the Times. As students at Power Memorial Academy practiced on March 15, 1948, for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, a deranged man, Marko L. Markovich, opened fire killing one, Thomas Brady, wounding four other students and two non-students.
Evidently, it was Markovich's hate of Catholics that provoked the tragedy. Following his arrest he stated, "The Catholics, the Italians and the politicians, they killed my boy, they killed my Jovan." In a later interview, he told police, "That word Catholic makes me mad, I start to shoot." Markovich's son had died four years earlier from a brain hemorrhage "from natural causes."
The incident began as Power students were walking in front of the 12th Regiment Armory then located at 61st and Columbus Avenue (currently the site of Fordham University Law School). The slayer had asked who these people were and learned they were boys from the local Catholic school. He pulled a gun and started firing, hitting several victims. In the chaos that followed, he confronted others, but his gun misfired. He pulled out another and shot Thomas Brady dead.
With a hostile crowd in pursuit, he headed north toward 62nd Street, then to 63rd. Police joined the chase, and he ran into a brownstone at 31 W. 63rd St. He raced to the roof where he was met by a volley of police gunfire. He ran down the stairs and was, after vicious resistance, captured and cuffed. The crowd outside the building had grown very large and angry; the fugitive was quickly put in a police car and rushed to the station on West 54th Street. He was booked and recommended for a mental examination at Bellevue Hospital.
In the days that followed, The New York Times writer Meyer Berger provided information to news-thirsty New Yorkers.
On March 16, a Memorial Mass was celebrated for Thomas Brady in St. Paul the Apostle Church on Columbus Avenue and 58th Street. The entire student body of Power Memorial marched to the church. At the mass, Paulist Father Francis McGough asked the students to pray for the healing of those injured and for Brady's soul. "Hate is no solution to any problem," he told them. He also revealed that the deceased was the last boy to have his confession heard before the group walked to the armory; minutes later he was dead. Brady had intentions of entering the religious life; he has been called by some a martyr.
At the service it was announced that the academy's seniors and juniors would march in the parade but without the music. Their flags and drums would be wrapped in black to remember their fallen comrade. Markovich continued his irrational behavior in Bellevue. Some detectives believed he had long staked out the academy and took advantage of the moment when he came upon the parade practice.
Sun and mild weather greeted more than 1 million spectators and 80,000 parade marchers, as did President Harry S Truman and Gov. Thomas E. Dewey. The celebratory atmosphere of the parade turned somber as the sound of the muffled drums announced the arrival of the Power Memorial Academy contingent at the reviewing stand. The school's principal, Brother William A. Hennessy, C.F.C, approached Truman, who expressed his condolences and wishes for those wounded. The unit moved on.
Power Memorial's Amazing Success at Basketball
The start of Power's Basketball successes. The 1930s to the 1950s
In the late 30's, Power Memorial began fielding Varsity Basketball teams that had become very competitive. Reflecting the abilities of the phenomenal Ezersky brothers, two championships came Power's way, the All-City in 1937 and again in 1941. In 1942, the Panthers bared their fangs again and captured the Metropolitan Championship with Mort O'Sullivan as the star Panther.
After that, the Power Basketball program and team became fairly insignificant until the "Hoop Hopes" returned in the 1950-51 season. That year a pair of sophomores came out of the dark and found places on the Varsity team. This duo, who seemed as if they were destined to complement each other, was George Yarwood and Dick Percudani (who, incidentally, was the youngest varsity player in the city.) Moreover, Dick Percudani was later to become a part of Power Basketball history many years later.
The 1950-51 season actually turned out to be a rather mediocre season after all. Power entered the K of C Tournament, and surprised everyone by winning 4 of 5 games, losing only in the championship game by a 44-41 score. On the plus side, Power won the Regis Trophy Game for the second year in a row. This showing raised a lot of hopes for the 1951-52 season.
After a 15-9 season in 51-52, the Panthers again set their sights on the K of C Tournament championship.
The woes continuedâ€¦as with the 1950-51 team, they lost in the final game to St. Ann's by a score of 74-72. Oh to be so close, yet so far. On the bright side, Power took on the traditional Regis Trophy Game, which the Panthers were determined to win for possession of the cup. Win they did, accomplishing the feat for the third consecutive time and thus retiring the trophy.
In 1952 George Yarwood made All-City.
The New Gym
For many years, the Power Basketball team had called the 12th Regiment Armory on 61st Street home and played many of their games and practice sessions there. Then, at long last, the time finally arrived, sometime in the mid-fifties, when the ground was broken for the long-awaited Gold-Star Gymnasium, appropriately named after Power Memorial WWII veterans Many Alumni who had spent their 4 years at PMA selling chance-books and attending "Gym Building and Fund-Raising Pep Rallies" had never even gotten to see the final edifice to their bull-dogged tenacity and loyalty at fund-raising activities.
But, nevertheless, the wonderful Gymnasium was completed. It definitely had an effect on the type of basketball talent Power could attract to its new Freshmen Classes each year. The quality of the PMA Basketball showed a marked improvement as a result of having easy access to a practice court and a real home court
A Tall, Skinny Young Man Enters PMA
In 1961, a very tall young man enrolled as a freshman in the Class of '65. He was already known for his talent on the basketball court and getting him was a coup for Power. His name was Ferdinand Lewis Alcindorâ€¦better known as Lew Alcindor (and later to be known as Kareem Abdul Jabbar).
Already a local basketball legend, Alcindor was heavily recruited by many of the local New York preparatory schools. He chose Power Memorial Academy, and his 6'-10" height gave Coach Jack Donohue no alternative but to place him on the varsity squad, a rarity for a freshman. He spent the year building his coordination.
As a sophomore averaging 19 points per game, Alcindor led his team to 27 straight victories en route to the 1963 New York City Catholic High School championship. Power Memorial's unbeaten streak continued the following year, as Alcindor averaged 26 points a game and led Power to another City Catholic High School championship. As a senior he averaged 33 points per game, and although DeMatha HS of Hyattsville, Maryland, snapped Power's unbeaten streak of 71 games, they again won the New York City CHSAA championship by going undefeated the rest of the season. His presence was felt almost immediately. For sure, he captivated the country for the next four years and was also an excellent scholar, a not all-too-common combination.
Power Memorial Dominates High School Basketball
Never before in the history of the CHSAA has a school distinguished itself as much as the 1962-63 Power basketball teams. The Varsity, the Junior Varsity and the Freshman squads all achieved outstanding records with the Varsity completing a perfect slate. And thus, these champions achieved the coveted Triple Crown, plus fame and glory for Power Memorialâ€¦we were on the map all across the country.
1963-64 -- In spite of replacing three starting players, Power completed it's second consecutive undefeated season. The season was highlighted by defeating DeMatha High School, 65-62, with Lew Alcindor scored 35 points, in what is viewed as the greatest high school basketball game of all time. It was a testament to the talent of the student-athletes, and the outstanding coaching ability of Jack Donohue, Richard Percudani and Jack Kuhnert.
1964-1965 â€“ Power Memorial Academy, led by Lew Alcindor's 35 points, defeated DeMatha 65-62. However, in a rematch on Jan. 30, 1965 before a sell-out crowd, they beat Power 46-43 in the most publicized high school basketball game of all time. DeMatha ended Power's 71 game win streak, holding Alcindor to 16 points. It was the lone loss of Lew's high school career (116-1).
Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) was the kind of player that graces a sport once in a lifetime. The basketball world may never again see an athlete who could dominate a sport for as long as Jabbar did. From the time he stepped on the court at Power Memorial Academy, to the time he retired as the NBA's all-time leader in nine statistical categories, he established himself as basketball's most talented and recognizable figure.
After earning three All-American selections at Power, where he led the team to a 95-6 record, he became part of one of the greatest teams in the history of college basketball. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.
In those three seasons, 1963 through 1965, Power dominated the High School Basketball picture in the Country. Art Kenney, teammate of Lew Alcindor and member of the 63-64 Team that was named the "#1 High School Team of the Century" has graciously given us some insights into the team. [The following is in the words of Art Kenney.]
"Kareem did not have an immediate impact on the team in his freshman year, but the progress he made was not arithmetic, but geometric from freshman to sophomore year, and from sophomore to junior year. I assume that (non-linear) progress continued into his senior year, but I was at Fairfield U. by then.
"At the start of Kareem's sophomore year, the team began its undefeated streak which lasted about 2 1/2 years, and ended when DeMatha beat Power by 3 points at Cole Field house on the University of Maryland campus (we had beaten them by 3 points in the same venue when I was a senior).
"The ' 63-' 64 Team (my senior year/ Kareem's junior year) was named "The #1 High School Team of The Century" by USA Today. The '70 team of Len Elmore, Searcy and Trimble had 3 All-Americans under Coach Jack Kuhnert (he was Freshman Coach in my senior year, and Dick Percudani was the JV Coach and Varsity Assistant Coach to Coach Jack Donohue. Chris Mullin also played at Power at the end of the '70s before transferring to Xaverian."
Coach Percudani is the same Dick Percudani who helped bring basketball successes to Power Memorial back in the 1950-1953 seasons as a member of the JV and Varsity teams. He was at that time the youngest Varsity player in New York City High School basketball.
The following is a short excerpt from Art Kenney's wonderful and moving eulogy delivered at Coach Donohue's memorial service
"The best thing about Power Memorial was the wonderful people it attracted, and the academic and athletic standards it set. Coach Donohue had an assistant, Richard Percudani, who had played for Power, and was â€œcut from the same cloth.â€? That tandem, became the best coaching TRIO ever to coach high school when Jack Kuhnert came to Power and joined the staffâ€¦ In 1963, Power won the Freshman, Junior Varsity, and Varsity CHSAA Championships -- the only time that that has ever been done! The following year, in spite of replacing 3 starting players, our team continued through a second undefeated season, and a few years ago, was named â€œThe High School Team of The Century.â€? It was a testament to the teaching, developing and coaching ability of those three, special men.
"Looking back on those years, I realize how fortunate my teammates and I were, to have had Coach Donohue as our high school coach."
[Thank you very much Art, for your insights into the "High School Team of the Century". Your comments are very pertinent being that they are coming from one who was a member of that highly-honored and dominating teamâ€¦a true inside perspective, so to speak. â€“ Vic '52]
PMA players, teams and coaches and their many Basketball honors
ALL-CITY CHSAACHAMPION RUNNER-UP
1936 Martin Burns
1937 Tom Holohan
1938 Tom Gorman
1939 Ed McCabe Power Memorial (Br. Loftus)
1941 John Ezersky
1952 George Yarwood
1959 Waverly Davis -Power Memorial (Jack Donohue)
1962 Johnny Hayes
1963 Lew Alcindor (Kareem) Power Memorial (Jack Donohue)*
1964 Lew Alcindor (Kareem) Power Memorial (Jack Donohue)**
1965 Lew Alcindor (Kareem) Power Memorial (Jack Donohue)
1966 Norwood Todmann Power Memorial (Jack Kuhnert)
1969 Power Memorial (Jack Kuhnert)
1970 Jap Trimble Power Memorial (Jack Kuhnert)***
1972 Power Memorial (Brendan Malone)
1973 Bob Misevicius Power Memorial (Brendan Malone)
1974 Bob Misevicius
1976 Larry Petty Power Memorial (Brendan Malone)
1977 Larry Petty Power Memorial (Brendan Malone)
1981 Mario Elie Power Memorial (Steve Donohue)
1982 Gus Santos Power Memorial (Steve Donohue)
1984 Mel Kennedy
* 1963 Freshman, Junior Varsity and Varsity win the CHSAA City Titles.
** 1964 Varsity named "Number 1 High School Team of the Century"; inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame in June of 2000, and into the NYC Basketball Hall Of Fame in September, 2000.
*** 1970 Varsity named "Number 1 Team in the Nation"; places 3 members on All-City Team and All-American Team Len Elmore, Jap Trimble & Ed Searcy).
[Special thanks to Art Kenney for supplying the CHSAA Timeline chart reproduced above]
The Coaches Who Led Power to the Top
The following lineup of four coaches were probably the greatest coaching staff ever assembled in any one High School in the United States, or the World for that matter.
Jack Donohue â€“ Varsity Head Coach 1959-1965
It was his years at Power Memorial High School (1959Â1965) for which Jack Donohue may be best remembered. During his tenure at Power, the basketball team had an impressive 163-30 record. At one point, the team won 71 consecutive games, due in part to the phenomenal playing of a young man named Lew Alcindor, better known to us now as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
After leaving Power, he coached for several years at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass., Donohue moved his outstanding skills as a basketball coach north of the border. In 1972, he became the head coach of the Canadian Men's Basketball Team.
Over the next 17 years, Donohue established himself as a legend in Canadian basketball and Canadian sport. In his first four years as head coach, the team moved from an eighth-place finish at the 1974 World Championships to sixth place at the 1975 Pan Am Games, and then to a fourth-place finish at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
At the 1983 World University Games in Edmonton, the Canadian team defeated the United States in the semifinals and Yugoslavia in the finals to capture the gold medal
Soon after his career he was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame, as well as the Canadian, New York and Ontario Basketball Halls of Fame. Coach Donohue passed away in April 2003. It will be a long time before we see one of his kind again.
Dick Percudani â€“ Junior Varsity Coach & Assistant Varsity Coach 1959-1965
After graduating from Power Memorial Academy in 1953, Richard Percudani entered Georgetown University and played college basketball there.
Upon his 1957 graduation from Georgetown University, Dick Percudani returned to Power Memorial Academy to become an Assistant Varsity Coach and JV Coach. He also taught Earth Science. With Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) at center, Power became the nation's top-ranked team in 1965-66.
His contributions to New York's basketball scene were recognized in June 1997, when Percudani was inducted into the New York Catholic High School Basketball Hall of Fame
In 1966, Percudani became the first American head coach in the Italian Pro Leagues, where he was named Rookie Coach of the Year with Milan. In 1970, he returned to the United States as an assistant at Fairfield University and helped lead the squad to its first-ever berth in the National Invitational Tournament. He was then an assistant at Sacred Heart University and helped lead the club to the NCAA Division II Final Four in 1976-77.
He eventually became the Director of Scouting for the Phoenix Suns of the NBA, where he had an 18-year tenure, until his untimely passing in 2001.
Jack Kuhnert â€“ Varsity Head Coach â€“ 1965-1970
Jack Kuhnert joined the mathematics department of Power Memorial following his 1961 graduation from Manhattan College. He entered the Power coaching ranks in 1962 as an assistant and took over the head coaching reins in 1965. He compiled an incredible 89-18 (.831 winning percentage) record in 5 seasons and continued Powerâ€™s dominance of basketball in New York City. Jack coached Power to 4 division titles and the 1970 city championship victory over Archbishop Malloy was one for the ages. The 1970 team completed an undefeated (22-0) season and garnered the #1 national ranking with the All-America trio of Len Elmore, Jap Trimble and Ed Searcy.
Kuhnert declined the offers to coach at the collegiate level after the dream season and followed his love of teaching and coaching high school to Freehold, NJ, where his young family had relocated in 1967. While at Freehold High School, Kuhnert won a state championship, 7 division titles and a record 10 Freehold Regional Holiday Tournament crowns. The Holiday Tournament was renamed in Kuhnertâ€™s honor following his sudden passing on October 6, 1997.
Coach Kuhnert was repeatedly recognized for his commitment to the student athlete, high standards of sportsmanship and the coaching profession both during and after his career. Honors included the National High School Coaching Gold Award, Governorâ€™s Teacher Recognition Award, New Jersey Interscholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Freehold High School Hall of Fame and New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame.
Brendan Malone â€“ Junior Varsity Coach 1967-1969 & Varsity Coach 1970-1976
Brendan Malone coached three years of junior varsity and six years (1970-76) of varsity basketball at Power Memorial Academy, leading that school to three city championships (one with the JV) and a combined 110-38 (.743) record.
While at Power, Malone was a three-time New York City "Coach of the Year" in basketball, as well as earning two-time "Coach of the Year" in baseball.
Coach Malone's successes at Power Memorial led to assistant coaching stints at Fordham University (1976-77), Yale University (1977-78) and Syracuse University (1978-84), before becoming a head coach at the University of Rhode Island (1984-86).
In 1997, Coach Malone was inducted into the Basketball Old Timers of America Hall of Fame. His record at Power earned him enshrinement into the New York City Catholic Sports Hall of Fame in 1993
Coach Malone served as Bench Coach with the N.Y. Knicks twiceâ€¦in 1986-88 and again from 1996-2000. He has returned to them again this year after three seasons with the Indiana Pacers.
An 18-year NBA coaching veteran, Brendan Malone led the expansion Toronto Raptors as their head coach in their inaugural season, 1995-1996. He spent 7 years as an assistant with the Detroit Pistons, and was a member of Don Chaney's staff from 1993-1995
The Dark Days of 1984
This is a copy of an article by columnist Bill Reel that appeared in the New York Sunday News on January 13, 1985. (It has been edited for brevity.)
The Congregation of Christian Brothers sold Power Memorial Academy for $13 million. That's what the old school brought in the booming Manhattan real-estate market
The buyer, Carol Management, will demolish the brick schoolhouse and build an expensive high-rise residence for the rich on the site over looking Lincoln Center on the fashionable, affluent West Side. In summer, residents will sit smartly on their terraces and sip highballs and enjoy the outdoor concerts in the park below.
All you hear when you walk by bleak, abandoned Power Memorial today is wind whistling. Oh, in your imagination, you hear teenage boys yelling and laughing, or you visualize them bent over books in classrooms. You stand in the silent cold outside the drab gym, and your memory recalls sounds that made the blood race --basketballs bouncing, coaches shouting, sneakers squeaking on a varnished court.
Carol Management plans a luxury building, 280 to 300 units, apartments or condominiums, on the 25,000 square feet of choice real estate on Amsterdam Ave. and 61st St. Demolition of Power Memorial is about to begin. A board fence has been erected around the brick building to contain debris. The front door is padlocked. After bursting with vitality for 52 years, Power looks awfully desolate awaiting its demise.
"I went back one day last fall," Rich Coppolino, who taught chemistry at Power for 21 years and worked tirelessly to prevent its closing, said Friday. Rich now heads the guidance department at St. Francis Prep in Queens. "My key still worked, so I went in. I walked around. There was stuff strewn on the floors. Broken windows. Emptiness. It was depressing. Let me get out of here, I said to myself, and I left."
A Save Power Memorial Committee proposed tearing down the dilapidated old schoolhouse and erecting a beautiful new Power Memorial Academy on the valuable site, building it into the first few floors of an office or residential building, just as Cathedral High occupies the lower floors of the Catholic Center on First Ave. and 55th St. Power Memorial's neighbor, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, graciously offered the use of classrooms during the period of construction. Rich Coppolino and the Save Power Memorial Committee appealed to Archbishop John O'Connor for a stay of execution.
But nothing could be done, and Power closed in June. The students, a beautifully integrated group representing all five boroughs, scattered to other schools last fall, Faculty members scrambled for jobs; Power Memorial, R.I.P.
Well, maybe saving Power wasn't practical. Maybe the $13 million looked too good. The Christian Brothers gave an awful lot to the church and the city over the years, [53 years to be exact, and a great deal of sacrifice given] but the order is aging and dying off now. The brothers need money for retirement and convalescent facilities, a spokesman said Friday.
The Catholic Church, booster of family life, certainly lost this round to so-called secular values. Score one for Planned Parenthood. Amsterdam and 61st is barren as can be today. If Power Memorial can be sacrificed to real-estate interests, is anything sacred?
The Class of '85 â€“ The Class that Never Graduated.
The Class of '85 â€“ Some thoughts supplied by Vinny Bonomi '85
"Power was a great place, we would take the train from Boro Park Brooklyn to west 4th and meet up with the guys from Chelsea...we would go every day to the bagel store on the corner, right around the corner from Lincoln Center...and we were late almost every day, had to call the transit dept. to find out if trains were delayed so we can say we were on that train and that's why we are late and not get detention.
"I went back to that bagel store about 7 years agoâ€¦the guy remembered me! It was great. I tell you even he cried when it closed.
"My brother was 2 years older then me and I would travel with him and our friends, laughing all the time, Kids just having funâ€¦we laugh about it till this day, My brother has since passed on due to cancer, and when we friends get together, we reminisce about the fun we had on the trains.... traveling at 3 am to hockey practice.... driving to Boston to play a game in minus 3 degree temp. The many trips to Riverdale hockey rink...or the baseball trips to Secaucus with Br Costa and Mr. Donahue...The time I worked there in the summer with Br. Costa cleaning the gym benches or painting the locker rooms...how many students would travel to their school today in the summer to change the combinations on the lockers? We did. I have 3 bricks in my attic from the old school...I read the article from Rich Coppolino, the one that says he went back into the school after it closed, and it was a wreckâ€¦well I would give anything to walk the halls of that school again. I don't know if I'm trying to undo my past and do it right...or just that Power left that much of an impression on me."
What were the feelings and insights from the student body and the faculty, both lay and religious?
"SAD...very SAD...like I said, till this day I feel sad about it...sometimes when I get the time, I visit the site...I speak with people all the time about Power, they all say, "What a shame!" I can imagine how the teachers felt now that I am olderâ€¦they had jobs, but they also had a love for Power.
"I still see some of my old teachersâ€¦I live on Staten Island. Br. Costa is here, Br. Hannon, and a respected basketball coach here on the Island Is Br. â€¦no, sorry, Mr. Gannon. He is no longer a brother. Actually, I used to work In South Beach Psy Center and one of my patients was an ex-teacher, one who had taught me Chemistry. Another ex-teacher lived 3 houses down from me and I never knew he taught at Power till his funeral.
"I will say this, the teachers and the brothers tried to be helpful in finding new schools for us, and sending letters out.... but it really wasn't organized, it was more like chaos.... being a teenager, having all the problems that come with that, and then having to leave a school you really loved, and enjoyed going to.... it wasn't right.
"But in looking back, what could they have done. Build a new school? That was not going to happen. Merge with another school, well then your doing the same as closing...there was nothing that could have been done...they needed the money, times were changing, the school was in need of repair. It was just a sad time for us.... I think if you ask the students now, yes, we all wanted it to stay open, but we all wanted it to stay open as it wasâ€¦not a new building, not merge, not in the basement, or lower floors of an apartment/office buildingâ€¦we wanted Power as we knew Power...and that was just not going to happen."
Were there any obvious problems visible in 1984 at Power that could forebode a closing?
"To be truthful I didn't see any problems at Power that were out of the ordinary everyday life of a bunch of teenagers from all across NY. Power was a bunch of middle class, kids having fun and learning at the same time.
"Yes the school was old, in need of repair, the elevator was...well it was running. The walls probably had lead paint all over them, the windows were old, the classrooms were out-dated, but that was the joy of Power. It didn't matter to us if it had a leaky roof, or missing tiles on the floor. As long as it was there for us and our friends and teachers. And of course the sports...that was very important.
"I have to tell you, I only attended for a few years, Power closed in 84 and we the students had to find other schools. That closing, to this day, changed my life...I didn't finish high school until 8 years later."
[Thank you very much Vinny for your very moving insights into the traumatic events of 1984. It would be very difficult for someone who was not there and involved to realize the deep trauma that this event was capable of causing. You have given all of us a small taste of what you must have endured. Thank you again for sharing those thoughts with the rest of us. -- Vic '52]
The Search for Power Memorial
Alumni Hopefully Seeking Out Other Power Alumni
After that fateful day in 1984, when Power closed its doors for good, a huge void was created. There were no Alumni Addresses or Records, other than those addresses in the Graduate section of the Yearbook each year. Of course, as the years passed, those addresses became mostly meaningless as the alumni married, entered the service, moved to new addresses, new cities, new states and, yes, even new countries. Lacking a common registry, alumni lost contact with each other and the future of the alumni as an active group looked bleak.
Onset of a New Power Era
The Beginning of the New Era â€“ The Reunions
Mr. Rich Coppolino put together a reunion back in 1989, and it eventually grew into the larger Annual Reunion that we all know today. The following is in the words of Mr. Richard Coppolino, Faculty.
"As far as the reunions are concerned: The first one took place in a small pub on the West Side of Manhattan in 1989. I had been encouraged by a few alumni friends to try to get some people together. Most of it was by word of mouth, since I had a very limited number of addresses. We had secured their private room for the evening. Over 200 PMA alumni showed up, packing the place so tightly that we spilled over to their bar, and pretty much took over the whole place.
"I couldn't have organized this without the help of Joe and Sean Crowley, and Pat Torney. It was an overwhelming experience to see all these people show up because of their loyalty to their high school, which had closed five years earlier.
"There was so little room, that when some of the alumni presented me with a plaque to thank me, I had to stand on a table to be seen and heard. I realized at that point that we would have to find a larger place for future reunions, and besides the pub closed that year. We moved to the Armory and have been there ever since.
"As far as the succeeding reunions are concerned, there are not too many things to say. They grew and shrunk from year to year, always having a loyal number of alumni who were interested in getting together.
"Peter Vallone showed up one year while he was Speaker of the City Council of NY.
"We have raised money to make donations to the Jack Bruen Scholarship Fund, the Jack Kuhnert Scholarship Fund, the Family and Children's Fund of the FDNY, and the Firehouses Funds of those PMA alumni who lost their lives on 9/11.
"We also held a special reunion/reception at the time the 1964 PMA basketball team was inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame as the team of the century.
"One year, one of the alumni took a cab to the reunion. When his cab driver dropped him at the Armory, he found that the driver was also a Power alumnus who was glad to hear of the reunions.
"A small number of former teachers have attended the reunions from year to year: Br. D'Adamo, Br. L. Murphy, Br. Hanney, Br. Haynes, Br. Gammaro, Mr. Grimmeyer, Mr. Cooney, Mr. Torney, Mr. Reyes, Mr. Kuhnert, Mr. Jack Donohue, Mr. Steve Donohue, Mr. Grasso, and Mr. Long.
"It has always been a great deal of enjoyment organizing these events, since it is great not only to keep the spirit of Power alive, but also great to see what Power alumni have accomplished in their lives. Many of my friends and colleagues are continually amazed that the spirit of a school that has been closed for twenty years draws alumni back from literally all over the country each year, as grads are always finding out about the reunions each year."
[The Reunions were obviously the single most important steps in the "Return of Power," since it supplied a ready-made alumni base to allow us to build upon and make the websites fabulously successful. We thank you very much for caring, Mr. Coppolino, and we are anxiously looking forward to the 14th Annual Reunion in October of 2003. â€“ Vic '52]
The Next Important Step â€“ A Power Website
The PMA website created by Chris Novack. The following is in the words of Chris Novack.
"It was probably sometime in Spring of 1999 when I started the site. After so many years distant from PMA, New York and a lot of friends, I was curious about what happened to them. I searched for any information about PMA on the Internet. There were numerous mentions on sites about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and an occasional mention in the bio of an alumnus, but nothing about the school or any reunions.
"I had created a number of web sites so I was familiar with HTML and what it takes to create a web site. I decided to set up a PMA site with a service that offered free hosting (which is why the original site had "8m" in the middle of it). The site initially had an aerial picture looking down on Manhattan from above Lincoln Center (with an empty lot at W.61st and Amsterdam) and a guest book. I then submitted the site name to all of the search engines, contacted any alumni whose names I came across in internet searches for "Power Memorial". I then posted a message on Classmates.com and on Reunion.com.
"From those postings, I made contact with a lot of alumni and they put me in touch with Rich Coppolino who gave me info on annual reunions. As the site was picked up by search engines (and word-of-mouth), more and more alumni who visited the site were very gratified to find that Power had a presence in cyber-space after all these years."
"Jose Rivera was one of the PMA alumni I was able to locate early on from his community websites. I emailed him to announce the site (as I did with as many other as alumni I could contact). Some months later he secured the domain name powermemorialacademy.com. He told me that he had put together an alumni site and we agreed to collaborate with any news, email addresses, and pictures, all in the spirit of getting Power Memorial Academy out on the Internet. That spirit of teamwork was exemplified by providing mutual links to each other's page from Day One. "By 2000, JosÃ© Rivera had created a new Power Site under its own domain name. With this, his site became the "official" PMA site.
"Since then Jose has taken the initiative to provide one of the finest alumni informational sites on the web, to which I will gladly take a back seat.
"But I am proud of have been a part of putting PMA on the webâ€¦it is very satisfying to have been a part of bringing together so many friends from the old days to relive memories. Couldn't have done that if someone hadn't decided to start the Power Memorial Academy Website."
[Thank you Chris, for without you and your Power web site, we could never have come from this far back. Many Alumni started checking the Power Site every day, just as if they were checking their email. It began to make Power a household word again as the site grew. Many Alumni who no longer had their Yearbooks, were pleasantly surprised to see their pictures and pictures of their classmates on Chris' website. Add to that, the ability to contact classmates on the internet as a result of the email address list and it became a must place to stop â€“ Vic '52]
Further Progress -- A Second, More Versatile Website
A new, interactive website by JosÃ© Rivera complete with a discussion forum which has opened up communications and made possible much of what we are doing now. The following is in the words of JosÃ© Rivera
"During 1994-1995 I tried to create a community newspaper/newsletter. After one initial printing, I quickly figured out that it would take more money and support than what I was getting. I asked my community friends for funds, and received exactly $50.00. This would have printed 50 issues of what was then a newsletter. Printing the number of newspapers I wanted to print cost too much. So I gave up on that idea for the time being.
"In 1995 I was first introduced to the Internet as it then existed. By the winter of 1995 I was introduced to my first web page and I immediately knew that was the way to publish community news to East Harlem. I storyboarded it as the way I would like it to appear and then went ahead and learned html.
I launched the East Harlem.com web site on February 26, 1996 with four html pages on the community. The site has since grown to over 300 pages.
"I first visited Chris Novack's Power Memorial web site during 1999 or 2000. I loved the idea of being able to communicate with old school mates. On one or two occasions the site was down when I tried to get to it. For the most part, it was always up and available. Every time I went to the site the thought occurred to me that if I could put more time into making it look more like a High School site and that if it had the features that East Harlem.com has grown to have, the Power site could become a thing of beauty and usefulness. (Not that the original site wasn't useful, but I could add many more features).
"On a lark, I decided to create the site locally on my hard drive. Meaning, not accessible on the Internet. Within two days during the summer of 2001, I had exceeded my own expectations. I looked up the domain with the domain register and saw that no one was using it, no one owned the name so I snapped it up on June 20, 2000. Not really knowing Chris Novack, I did not dare ask him to redo his site. So with mixed feelings, I created the other site. All I really wanted to do was to rework the design of the site. Again, I was reluctant to ask Chris to change his site.
"I let my feelings overtake me and put the site live on the Internet. I needed to know if the design worked, not thinking that after people said yes, that I'd be running that site. The rest is history. Since that first day, I have added a discussion board, photo gallery and new Guestbook.
"To the best of my recollection, I put the site up live and e-mailed the alumni during July 2000. Initial reaction for the new Power site was overwhelm