The St. John Paul II Regional School Class of 2019, from left: Aislinn McGaughey, Oscar Partyka, Joseph Barisic, Brianna Casale, teacher Nancy Ryan, Sabrina Lawston, Brianna Shimer, Dylan McGuire, Taylor Mirando, Joseph Stevens, August Hatcher-Robertson. Courtesy photo: Judy Stevens.

St. John Paul II, the Catholic elementary school that opened at the former St. Isidore School site last fall graduated its first class of eighth-graders Friday evening.

The 10 members of the Class of 2019 received their diplomas at a Mass celebrated in the parish church.

St. John Paul II Regional School opened at the St. Isidore campus after the diocese of Rockville Centre closed both St. Isidore and Our Lady of Mercy in Cutchogue at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. The diocese also closed McGann-Mercy Junior-Senior High School at the same time, leaving eastern Suffolk County without a Catholic high school.

Nancy Ryan, who taught at St. Isidore’s from 1981 until it closed last June, was hired as an eighth- grade teacher at St. John Paul II. She is one of three St. Isidore’s teachers that stayed on.

Eight of the 10 students in the class had been students at St. Isidore’s “pretty much since kindergarten,” Ryan said. The other two children came over from McGann-Mercy Junior High School, she said. One of them had been at St. Isidore’s through sixth grade, but left to attend McGann-Mercy Junior High School in seventh grade, only to have the school close down at the end of the school year.

From left: August Hatcher-Robertson, Oscar Partyka, Brianna Shimer and Joseph Stevens. Courtesy photo: A. Hatcher

“It was a little hard on the children in the beginning, with a lot of changes, a new place for some of them. As time went on and people relaxed with it, things got better and better,” Ryan said. “The children got along and that makes everything better.”

The new school’s first graduation was very special, the veteran teacher said.

“The children created their own Mass,” she said. “They chose all the readings and music.”

Eight of the 10 members of the Class of 2019 are attending a Catholic high school, even though, for some, that means traveling great distances to do so.

One graduate will the attending Riverhead High School, another will attend Ward Melville. The others are going to St. Anthony’s in South Huntington, St John the Baptist in West Islip and Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead.

The members of St. John Paul II Regional School’s first graduating class are: Joseph Barisic, Brianna Casale, August Hatcher-Robertson, Sabrina Lawston, Aislinn McGaughey, Dylan McGuire, Taylor Mirando, Oscar Partyka, Brianna Shimer and Joseph Stevens.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.