11 June

Happy Hearts At Bishop Maginn: Banquet Tonight, Almost Everyone Is Going To College

by Jon Katz

I’m very much looking forward to the banquet being held tonight at Bishop Maginn High School.

It’s a night for happy hearts. Almost the entire graduating class goes to college in September after a grinding and difficult year coping with the pandemic.

In addition, Zinnia has been named Prom Queen and has been all over Albany TV this week.

It’s a cute, sweet thing, but it has a lot of meaning. Many of these children helped to train Zinnia. My idea was to have her learn to be a therapy dog from the very people she would be helping.

It worked; she loves Bishop Maginn and has taught a dozen or more refugee children how to love a dog and also be comforted by one. She is a healing spirit in every sense in the world. On dark days, she brought smiles.

Maria and Zinnia, and I will be going to the banquet, which will feature food prepared by the student’s parents, from 15 to 20 different foods from all over the world.

Bishop Maginn is an amazing place with an extraordinarily dedicated administration and faculty. I can’t begin to express my admiration at what they do for these children.

Many of these kids have arrived here from refugee camps, survived shattered homes and families, obliterated villages; murdered family members.

They’ve survived war, invasions, genocide, and horrifically crowded and dangerous refugee camps. And sorry to say, a fresh wave of hatred in the United States.

They and their families have lost everything and came to America just as refugees became a political issue and a target for kids and adults. A hostile administration in Washington eliminated most of their benefits. Then a pandemic wiped out their parent’s jobs and made many parents sick.

I’m proud that we helped them every step of the way.

Many of the Bishop Maginn students came to the school because they were taunted, bullied, robbed, and beaten savagely by other students in the public schools.

One BM student had his hair set on fire, a girl from Myanmar was beaten so badly trying to help a friend that she had to be hospitalized.

The school works miracles.

They are skilled at teaching English, providing a safe and loving environment, and working with the refugee students from the very first day to think about college and apply to the right ones. Many get full or partial scholarships.

The teachers are paid little, work grueling hours, and are dedicated to their students in a way I have not witnessed before.

Meeting and getting to know these brave and generous children has been one of the best experiences of my life, and so has seeing Zinnia throw herself into the task of helping them heal and feel safe.

One is going to a pre-med program, another to pre-law school program, another to a first-rate fashion design school in Manhattan, others to accounting and law schools.

They are all eager to join the mainstream of American life, and they believe strongly that the hatred many Asians are facing now is not the true America.

They join me in thanking the Army of Good for making tonight possible, for making the school safer, for providing all of the technology they needed to learn virtually, for providing food and clothing to their families when they most needed it.

What a privilege for me to be a part of this.

I can’t wait to honor them tonight as they get together for the last time with their parents present and sail off to live their lives. Most of them will come back and visit at least once every year for years and years.

I will miss every one of them.

I appreciate Bishop Maginn, a Catholic School that has never forgotten the messages of  Jesus Christ and to honor his plea to care for the needy and the vulnerable. The true motto of the school out to be “Above And Beyond.”


  1. Since you can’t go to law school as an undergraduate, I think you’re exaggerating their accomplishments a tad.

    1. Duh….What an annoying post, I guess you just uncovered another Watergate. I left out the “pre'” which I inserted after reading your post. I guess you can’t have a proud or present moment on any form of social media without somebody making sure to try to pee on it. It’s a great accomplishment for this young woman, despite people like you. I guess you’re demeaning it a tad. I’d much err my way than be right your way. Did it even occur to you that this isn’t about legalism but about the amazing suffering and work that went into this young woman’s achievement at getting into pre-law school while mourning dead family members and still ln learning English. Perhaps you could have at least mentioned that as well. That would be almost as much fun as trolling.

    1. Honestly, the teachers do…my part is easy..I’m not being modest, they are the heroes..thanks for the note..

  2. Hey Jon,

    I just finished catching up on like a week’s worth of Bedlam Farms. Sunday is a good day for that. This post about these incredible young people just made me cry! Bless BM and these young people and their families moving forward. Thank you for sharing your writings Jon. Your wealth of words keeps on traveling along getting new folks on board. Happy Sunday to you and Maria~Jen

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