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McClancy honors Brother Robert Connolly

Known by many as the cornerstone of Msgr. McClancy Memorial High School, Brother Robert Connolly was honored by the school’s community with the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Family, friends, students, alumni, faculty, and sponsors gathered at Russo’s On The Bay in Howard Beach to celebrate the 18th Annual President’s Dinner and 50th anniversary reunion for the classes of ‘70, ‘71, and ‘72.

With support from The Cor Jesu Foundation, Msgr. McClancy held the event to raise funds for its Endowment Fund, which goes toward financial aid and capital improvements to the school.

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, ‘79 alumnus Michael DenDekker and ‘71 alumnus John Savin were presented with the 2022 Cor Jesu Awards.

Michael DenDekker and president Nicholas Melito.

After graduating from McClancy, DenDekker went on to work for the Department of Sanitation, responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11, and was elected to the NYS Assembly in 2008, representing the 34th District.

DenDekker is recognized for his contributions to McClancy, including bringing funding to the school, and getting the brand new sidewalks around it installed.

Savin has lived everywhere from Georgia to LA, and has a career focused on the music and audio/video industries.

He is also known for his immense support for McClancy, being he is the self-designated scribe for the class of ‘71, and is involved with the Alumni Development Committee and Annual Appeal Committee.

“I really have to thank McClancy so much because of the education I got, and the things that were instilled in me,” DenDekker said. “I got to learn about responsibility and what it means to be productive, loyal, and honest.”

“I don’t think there’s another school so richly blessed as McClancy,” Savin said. “We are all proud to be Crusaders.”

Brother Robert Connolly and president Nicholas Melito.

McClancy’s president Nicholas Melito presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Brother Robert Connolly, noting that no speech could ever fully cover the way the school community feels toward him.

Connolly began teaching in 1953 and was later assigned to McClancy in 1962.

He served as a teacher, confraternity moderator, and athletic director in his early years there, and eventually became assistant principal, and then principal.

He was also appointed as the schools’ first president in 1997.

A video was put together in his honor by faculty, alumni, and friends of the school, sharing his contributions both big and small.

George Medlin, chairman of their board of directors and class of ‘70 alumnus, said that he originally did not get accepted to McClancy.

His brother’s prison sentence was a challenging time for the family, and as a result, his father arranged for a meeting with Connolly — who ultimately let him attend McClancy.

“Many times during my career, I’ve reflected back on the success that I’ve had and how I can attribute all of that to the one act of kindness from

Brother Robert,” Medlin said. “It meant so much to me.”

The entire room stood and clapped as Connolly accepted his award, and gave a lengthy, sentimental speech.

“We want to make sure that when a student leaves McClancy, they walk out of there confident, that they’ve made the right decisions, and know the way to make more right decisions,” Connolly said.

“So I coined the phrase ‘The school that makes a difference,’ and I’m happy to say that it still is. That’s why all of you are here tonight.”

Squeri throws out first pitch at McClancy

$2.1 million complex donated by 1977 alum Stephen Squeri

Monsignor McClancy High School in East Elmhurst celebrated the opening of its new $2.1 million state-of-the-art sports complex Monday, coinciding with the varsity baseball team’s first home game of the season.

American Express CEO and 1977 graduate of the school, Steve Squeri, made the generous donation to his former stomping grounds for the new athletics complex that is believed to be the biggest donation to the school in its history.

The completion of the new sports complex comes after numerous improvement projects inside the school —- from classroom renovations to an extended cafeteria space — have been completed and funded by Squeri.

Squeri and Melito share a moment in the dugout.

The new Stephen J. Squeri ‘77 Sports Complex makes the school the only Catholic High School in Brooklyn and Queens to have a state-of-the-art baseball, softball, soccer and track fields on campus.

Squeri delivered remarks in a pre-game ceremony, shortly before delivering a strike for the honorary first pitch of the baseball season.

“If it wasn’t for this school, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Squeri said.

He recalled the conversation with the school’s president, Nicholas Melito ‘78, where the idea for the sports complex was proposed to him over a pizza lunch in his neighborhood of Astoria.

“I’ve known Nick for 49 years, I love him like he’s my own brother.” Squeri said. “And when your brother asks you for something, you do it.”

Squeri credited Melito with having the vision for the sports complex, and for having the guts to ask him for the school’s new athletic facility.

“So many times, the answer is going to be no unless you ask,” Squeri added.

Friends since their days as students at the school, Melito expressed his gratitude to his lifelong friend at the ceremony.

“On behalf of current students, and future students for many years to come, we thank you for turning a dream into reality,” Melito said.

Group shot w/ scoreboard: (Left to right) Brother Robert Connolly, S.C., Barry Ferguson, project electrician, George Medlin, class of 70, Chairman of Board,McClancy HS, Nick Melito, class of 76, President of Msgr. MClancy HS, Mike Quick, sales Land Tek, Marty Lyons, Public Relations LandTek, Steve Squeri, class of 77, Chairman and CEO of American Express.

The multi-purpose turf field, complete with a separate track and field portion, was constructed by Bayside-based LandTek Group.

Marty Lyons, Landtek’s Vice President of Public Relations Marketing and former New York Jets football player, praised the completion of the project and Squeri for stepping up to get it completed.

“We’re lucky that we have people at the school like Steve who want to make an impact,” Lyons said. “I’m happy for the kids and happy for the school. It was long overdue.”

Student-athletes expressed their joy to be able to play on the new turf field, which will serve as the new home for the Crusaders for the near future. The multi-purpose field will also be used for physical education classes and other events for the school.

Nicholas Rodriguez, a junior on the varsity baseball team, says the new field is a blessing to have. His senior teammate, Ryan Ehret,

“It’s a great feeling,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a lot better than last year. It shows how much the program means to players and how much the players love the program.”

Ehret added, ““I’m glad I get to play on it for my last year. It looks beautiful and feels great. Everyone is hype for it and it’s an overall good feeling.”

Players surprised Squeri with his own personalized jersey to wear while throwing out the game’s first pitch.

Before stepping on the pitcher’s mound, Squeri delivered a message of inspiration to the student-athletes and alumni who attended the pre-game ceremony.

“What you see here today is a result of somebody having a vision,” Squeri said. “What you see here today is a result of someone not afraid to ask the question. And what you see here today is the ability for somebody to give back and to realize where they are.”

“Dream big. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can or cannot do. Anything you do, give 110%. Leave it out all on the field. Be true to yourself. Never forget where you came from. And most importantly, give back and make the world a little better for you being in it.”

McClancy unveils plans for new $2M sports complex

Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School will break ground on a $2 million state-of-the-art sports complex in June, thanks to the largesse of Stephen Squeri, a school alum and CEO and Chairman of American Express.
The school unveiled the plans for the facility at an event on May 18.
“This facility will be one of a kind in Queens, no other school will have one like it,” said president Nicholas Melito, a 1976 graduate who taught global students at the high school and served as the varsity baseball coach before taking the helm last year.
The complex will encompass three blocks of the East Elmhurst campus, according to Melito, and include new artificial turf baseball and softball fields, soccer field, running track, and a separate section for field events.
The new addition will add to McClancy’s rich athletic tradition. The school’s love of sports prompted the Alumni and Athletic Departments to create its own Hall of Fame in 1996.
The high school’s roster now includes around 90 students, coaches and others who contributed to the success of McClancy’s athletic programs throughout the years.
But the new facility will host more than sporting events, Melito stressed.
“It will be used for physical education classes as well, benefiting the entire study body,” he said.
The project, scheduled to begin this summer and be completed by October, will be fully funded by Stephen Squeri, a 1977 alumnus who played high school basketball during his time at the school.
“The truth is, he and I spoke about this once in the past and Steve was intrigued by the idea and it was something he wanted to do,” said Melito, a friend of Squeri’s for more than 50 years.
The corporate businessman has a reputation for giving back. He’s been on the Board of Directors at McClancy for the past 10 years and he’s served on the Board of Trustees at Manhattan College, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting and computer science and later an M.B.A. in Finance.
During Squeri’s time on the high school board, he’s assisted the administration in fundraising and implementing a master strategic plan.
“Our first priority was the infrastructure of the main building, then upgrading the classrooms with the latest technology,” he noted. “We then focused on the labs, media center, music room and art room, student center and gym. The last piece of the puzzle was the biggest piece – the sports facility.”
Three years ago, McClancy renamed its student center in honor of Squeri’s parents, Lorraine and Joseph, after he donated funds to revamp the space.
“His generosity and caring about his high school has been long-standing,” Melito added. He never forgot the education he received and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart who taught him. When you talk to him he’s just a kid from Astoria, yet he’s so successful and runs a major corporation.”
Squeri said his McClancy education laid the foundation for his future achievements.
“When I look back at my experience at McClancy, I truly believe it had a huge impact on my ability to be successful in life and in business,” he said. “It is important to me that kids who grow up in the same community I did have the same chance at success that I did.”

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