As originally published by Brooklyn Reporter:
BY: MEAGHAN MCGOLDRICK / firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Patrick Catholic Academy hosted another successful “First Responders Day” – a school-wide event that pays tribute to members of the NYPD, FDNY, EMS and DSNY – on Friday, February 2.
The morning started with a special mass, celebrated by St. Patrick’s pastor Monsignor Michael Hardiman, and attended by the school’s entire student body, faculty, parents who are first responders and members of the 68th Precinct. Students participated in the mass by taking part in the procession, singing in the choir and altar serving.
“We look up to first responders because you respond to the needs of people. And in that way, you are emblematic of what it means to be a Christian,” Monsignor Hardiman told the crowd.
Following the mass, a reception was held inside the school for all of the first responders and their families.
“I love this day,” said Gina Keenan, who teaches seventh grade social studies at St. Pat’s, where she, herself, once went. Her husband, Kevin, who works for NYPD Harbor Control, was present for First Responders Day as well as their two children, Shannon and Matthew, both of whom are students at St. Pat’s. “It’s such a wonderful way to honor our first responders.
“Daddy’s visit,” she said, was the highlight of her kids’ week. “They couldn’t wait.”
St. Patrick’s Principal Kathleen Curatolo brought back First Responders’ Day last year due, in part, to her close family connection with our city’s bravest. She has four brothers, including one police officer and three firefighters. One of Curatolo’s brothers died on September 11, 2001.
Of this year’s event – the second under her leadership – Curatolo said there were more parents participating than ever before.
“My favorite part is when the kids read and their parents are right there next to them,” she said. “It’s a really special day for everyone here at St. Pat’s.”
For first responders, the day was even more meaningful.
“I think it’s really great that the school thinks it’s important to honor first responders. It’s really telling of what the people of this community mean to the school,” said Thomas Casatelli, a retired firefighter. “It’s one of the main reasons I want to send my kids here, that sense of community.”
When one fourth grade class was asked if they wanted to grow up to become first responders, at least half the room raised their hands.