The former Warners Elementary School that has sat unoccupied for more than 20 years is full of life again.
The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God Church and Academy has moved from Syracuse into the historic building that was first built in 1900's, then re-built in 1928 following a fire. An extra wing was added to the building in 1967. Despite the maintenance dilemmas that are expected with older buildings, Father Timothy Pfeiffer is very pleased with the transition.
"It's a nightmare as far as heating and energy conservation," Pfeiffer said. "But this is a beautiful old building. The new wing is very solid."
In the spring and summer of 1993, Miss Amy Farfaglia, now Sister Aimee Dominique, organized the academy under the guidance of Pfeiffer. In Sept. 1993, Mother of God Academy opened with twenty-one students in grades one through eight. Five part-time and four full-time teachers taught in improvised classrooms.
Because of increased enrollment numbers, the BVM Academy outgrew its former location that was in the basement of its parish church in Syracuse and had spread to some surrounding buildings.
The academy is now home to 132 students in grades kindergarten through twelve. Nine seniors will be graduating from the academy this year. Students come from all around the Syracuse area, and some hail from Canada, Germany and Nigeria.
All 19 staff members from the old location made the move to Warners on Sept. 4.
"It was a straight-forward transplant," Pfeiffer said. "Our old location just became too constrained. We're a small school with a big operation. We chose the building because it was available, we had room to expand and it's a beautiful area."
After the elementary school closed in 1980, students were dispersed to Stonehedge and Easthill Elementary schools in the West Genesee School District. The school was used by the Camillus Police Department for SWAT team training for the next several years, among other things.
"The town of Camillus has been very helpful," said Pfeiffer. "We're happy to have the fire department nearby, and our neighbors have been gracious."
The BVM academy is planning an open house for neighbors of the school, and would like to hear from former graduates of the old Warners Elementary School.
"We hope that through the work of education and Christian virtues, we can inspire our students from within," said Pfeiffer. "Then we will have a positive contribution to our neighbors."