13 August

Sharing The Agenda For Bishop Maginn

by Jon Katz

In three weeks, classes resume at Bishop Maginn, and I’m excited about helping the school to accomplished some urgently needed things.

We have been on a great roll the summer, school opens with supplies, computers, microscopes, textbooks, calendars, a new choir, Ipads for the teachers, and a new refugee children’s dance group.

But there is, of course, more to do. No surprise there.

This is a terrible time for refugees and their children in America, I am filled with love for my country and it’s history,  and proud to be able to help these children adjust to life here, and the new realities of their already difficult existence.

Refugee students in the public schools report skyrocketing incidents of harassment, violence, and hostility. It is a frightening time for the families who gave up everything they had to come to America.

The children’s parents have given up everything to get to America for their children, we are helping to keep that dream alive.

Bishop Maginn has never been more needed, or more important.

Technology is critical to the rebirth and evolution of the school, the computer lab and science lab will be transformative. For the first time in years, the teachers don’t have to buy their own supplies.

I’ve been talking with Principal Mike Tolan and Sue Silverstein all week about how we can help them in the short run, and as is my way, I’m sharing the agenda for the next few weeks.

I will be asking for some help. Compared to what we’ve been doing, this work should be small and manageable.

Tuition. Mike Tolan has admitted some seriously gifted young refugee academics, valedictorians and high achievers from other schools.

The public school environment for refugee children is difficult right now, many report being taunted, beaten up, robbed in the public schools.  One young refugee male had his hair set on fire, a young girl was beaten so badly she had to be hospitalized. She is coming to Bishop Maginn in September.

I suggest two ways of helping – one is to give directly to the school, those donations are tax-deductible. The other is to give smaller amounts to me and I will make sure they go where they are supposed to go.

This two-tiered system has been working well, Mike Tolan has received more than $40, 000 in donations for his new, still young, still small tuition fund.

I’ve been able to raise nearly that amount to help gifted young refugee students get into some of the best private schools in Albany. I’ll provide details of how to give soon.

Mike Tolan is admitting the neediest and most gifted of these students, but most of them have little or no money to spend on tuition.

I’ll be meeting with the students who need help one at a time, taking their photos and telling their stories. We will raise what we can, hopefully enough to keep them in school. No private school can survive for long without tuition payments, this will be challenging throughout September.

Tomorrow I’m meeting with one young middle school valedictorian who is desperate to come to Bishop Maginn, his parents have very little money to contribute to his tuition. I hope we can raise some tuition money for him. Whatever we can raise will help. I’ll get the details tomorrow, along with a photo and some biographical details.

Security. The Albany County Sheriff’s office has done a school safety evaluation of Bishop Maginn in the wake of the horrible school shootings that continue to occur in our broken country.

I can’t and shouldn’t go into too many details but they will need several ladders and some signage (to alert people outside to what is happening) and some special “go-to” bags filled with things the students might need of they are trapped in place for several hours or need to eat.

It is a horrible thing to me, that this is necessary in America, but it clearly is.

This will not be expensive, I think, but I will be asking the Army Of Good to help purchase these items so the school will be as secure as possible.

Mike Tolan is very conscious of price, we will be raising that money on a new Wish List. People can purchase those items directly and send them to school.

Keyboard. Judi Merriam, the new choir director, is looking for help in buying a new keyboard for the choir, she’s looking at one $450 model. I propose to pay half of that and ask for the additional $250. Choir tryouts and classes start in three weeks.

Banners: The school’s banners are ratty and worn out, the wrong message for this resurgent institution. I’ve offered to pay for two proud and colorful new banners to fly over the front door.

So that’s the planned agenda. Details to follow. In the meantime, if anybody wants to contribute, they can send donations directly to the school: Mike Tolan, Principal, Bishop Maginn High School, 75 Park Avenue, Albany, N.Y., 12202

People can also send donations to me via Paypal, jon@bedlamfarm.com, or by check, Jon Katz Bishop Maginn Fund, P.O.  Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816




  1. I know you would rather have new, but bargains on keyboards abound on craigslist, etc. we just bought an almost new full digital piano for $160. New it would be $3,000.

    1. I’m not choosing the keyboard, Nora, it’s not my business. The choir director is searching for bargains and the right keyboard for the choir, she’s not asking me to do it for her. She has found some very good boards for a fraction of $3,000.

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