BY KERRY MURTHA
Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School will break ground on a $2 million state-of-the-art sports complex this months, thanks to the largesse of Stephen Squeri, a school alum and CEO of American Express.
“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.”