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I sat in the church with my mom waiting for my daughter’s performance. She had practiced for weeks and was so excited to play “Bingo” on the piano at her first instrumental concert. Sitting there, I thought about how this concert would be one to remember regardless if her performance was perfect. This concert was not only a “first” for her, but a “last” for the school. It was one of many “last” events at Ambrose Catholic Academy, which was preparing to close its doors for good.

This June marked the closing of two of the three remaining Catholic grammar schools located in South Buffalo: Ambrose and Trinity. Due to financial constraints and dwindling populations, a decision was made to consolidate three campuses into one.

The news was difficult to take when suddenly received this past January. Change is not easy. Not only was there concern over what the future would bring, but the realization that these two schools, an extension of our families and longtime pillars in our community, would be gone for good.

As I watched the entire student body quietly file into the assembly, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the goodness that I associate with Ambrose. My family has a longtime connection with the school. My mother entered fourth grade the year St. Ambrose, as it was known then, opened. It is where she and my father chose to send my siblings and me. This school history is not unique to us, because many families have generational ties; nonetheless it is something I hold dear. My mom had been there at the beginning and my daughter was there at the end.

I grew up about nine houses away from the school and church, which were prominent fixtures in my childhood. Not only was it my school and parish but also my neighbor. Its grounds were a great place for playing sports, riding bikes, roller skating and pretty much anything else that could be thought up by us kids. We spent countless hours there having fun and making memories.

When I think back on the years that I attended Ambrose, classes and activities come to mind but what are most prominent are the people. I have fantastic memories of the teachers and all that they brought to their classrooms. I think of the students with whom I attended and also gained so much from. Special people who helped foster a community based on learning, faith and values.

I know that my sentiments are not uncommon, but they are heightened by familial and communal connections. Even though I graduated 25 years ago, so much of who I am, I associate with those years spent in a place that educated, nurtured and guided me. Those within the Ambrose community left an indelible imprint on me and I will always be appreciative of that.

Listening to all of the fantastic instrumental performances conjured up many emotions in me. Mostly, though, I felt thankful for the memories of my school, grateful to be part of such a special place and to share that with my mom, daughter, family and friends. The Ambrose legacy of providing quality Catholic education and a strong sense of community has endured. As difficult as it is to say goodbye, I am comforted by the thought that the spirit and the impact of Ambrose and all that it provided will be carried on by those who were lucky enough to be touched by it.