Known by many as the cornerstone of Msgr. McClancy Memorial High School, Brother Robert Connolly was honored by the school’s community with the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Family, friends, students, alumni, faculty, and sponsors gathered at Russo’s On The Bay in Howard Beach to celebrate the 18th Annual President’s Dinner and 50th anniversary reunion for the classes of ‘70, ‘71, and ‘72.
With support from The Cor Jesu Foundation, Msgr. McClancy held the event to raise funds for its Endowment Fund, which goes toward financial aid and capital improvements to the school.
In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, ‘79 alumnus Michael DenDekker and ‘71 alumnus John Savin were presented with the 2022 Cor Jesu Awards.
After graduating from McClancy, DenDekker went on to work for the Department of Sanitation, responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11, and was elected to the NYS Assembly in 2008, representing the 34th District.
DenDekker is recognized for his contributions to McClancy, including bringing funding to the school, and getting the brand new sidewalks around it installed.
Savin has lived everywhere from Georgia to LA, and has a career focused on the music and audio/video industries.
He is also known for his immense support for McClancy, being he is the self-designated scribe for the class of ‘71, and is involved with the Alumni Development Committee and Annual Appeal Committee.
“I really have to thank McClancy so much because of the education I got, and the things that were instilled in me,” DenDekker said. “I got to learn about responsibility and what it means to be productive, loyal, and honest.”
“I don’t think there’s another school so richly blessed as McClancy,” Savin said. “We are all proud to be Crusaders.”
McClancy’s president Nicholas Melito presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Brother Robert Connolly, noting that no speech could ever fully cover the way the school community feels toward him.
Connolly began teaching in 1953 and was later assigned to McClancy in 1962.
He served as a teacher, confraternity moderator, and athletic director in his early years there, and eventually became assistant principal, and then principal.
He was also appointed as the schools’ first president in 1997.
A video was put together in his honor by faculty, alumni, and friends of the school, sharing his contributions both big and small.
George Medlin, chairman of their board of directors and class of ‘70 alumnus, said that he originally did not get accepted to McClancy.
His brother’s prison sentence was a challenging time for the family, and as a result, his father arranged for a meeting with Connolly — who ultimately let him attend McClancy.
“Many times during my career, I’ve reflected back on the success that I’ve had and how I can attribute all of that to the one act of kindness from
Brother Robert,” Medlin said. “It meant so much to me.”
The entire room stood and clapped as Connolly accepted his award, and gave a lengthy, sentimental speech.
“We want to make sure that when a student leaves McClancy, they walk out of there confident, that they’ve made the right decisions, and know the way to make more right decisions,” Connolly said.
“So I coined the phrase ‘The school that makes a difference,’ and I’m happy to say that it still is. That’s why all of you are here tonight.”