Incarnation School (Manhattan)

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Coordinates: 40°50′41.21″N 73°56′8.91″W / 40.8447806°N 73.9358083°W / 40.8447806; -73.9358083

Incarnation School
Incarnation school.jpg
570 West 175th Street
Washington Heights, Manhattan,

New York

United States
School typeparochial elementary
MottoFor God and Country
AdministratorMagaret Lee, Paul Rubeis
SloganBuilding a bridge to the future in washington heights since 1910
Team nameTyros, Debs and Varsity Teams

Incarnation School is a private Catholic elementary school in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Founded in 1910, Incarnation is dedicated to providing the foundation for its students to develop into successful business and community leaders.

On June 4, 2011, Incarnation opened its doors yet again to welcome over 200 of its alumni home for its Centennial Celebration. The event was successful, raising just under $30,000 for curriculum enhancements. The event began with a Centennial Mass celebrated by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, after which Dolan joined alumni and friends of the school at a reception featuring student vocal and ballroom dance performances, a silent auction and raffles. Current Incarnation students volunteered as tour guides and mingled and shared stories with the alumni. Alumni from graduating classes ranging from 1948 to 1999 had a chance to catch up with each other, meet their predecessors and successors, and check out their old classrooms. One alum commented, “What a nice job everybody did. The kids were great, they were all so well behaved, so polite. It was really a nice time.”


In 1908 the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney was assigned to establish a parish in Washington Heights to relieve overcrowding at St. Elizabeth's and St. Rose Of Lima Parishes. The new parish was christened Incarnation.

To meet the new challenge, Father Mahoney rented a store at 1253 St. Nicholas Avenue between 172nd and 173rd Street and used it as a temporary chapel with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being offered there for the first time on Sunday, September 6, 1908. On November 1, 1908 he relocated his temporary chapel to the corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and 171st Street. By the end of the year, Incarnation had purchased eight lots at the corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and 175th Street for $78,000.

The first step of establishing the center of the Parish, the altar about which all parish activity would revolve, had been accomplished. Three months after the opening of the chapel, Father Mahoney instituted a regular Sunday School program, with a priest, two Sisters of Charity and a number of lay teachers, to respond to the challenge of providing religious instructions for the children. His next task was to organize the Senior and Junior Holy Name Societies, the Children of Mary, the Sacred Heart Society, two young people's clubs, the Incarnation Lyceum for young men, and a Young Women's Club. To assist Father Mahoney in carrying out his emerging program, the Reverend Walter D. Slattery was assigned priest of Incarnation. In the following year, 1909, an additional priest, Reverend Alexander McCarthy, was appointed to the Parish.

Father Mahoney, well aware that the neighborhood continued to grow rapidly, determined that a complete school should be built. Archbishop Farley laid the cornerstone for the new school on October 17, 1909 with Monsignor Michael J. Lavelle, Vicar General as preacher.

Father Mahoney relocated the chapel to the newly constructed school auditorium and on February 6, 1910 the first Mass in the new chapel was offered. Incarnation School opened on September 12, 1910 with two Sisters of Charity from Mount Saint Vincent, Sister M. Auxilium, Principal and Second Grade Teacher, and Sister Mercedes, First Grade Teacher, comprising its staff. The school enrolled 103 children in its first year of operation, but this number quickly grew, almost doubling by 1912. Attendant upon the opening of the school was the founding of the Saint Aloysius Society for Boys and the Angels Society for Girls under the direction of Sister Auxilium.

The school in 2014

As enrollment rose, so did the associated challenge of providing a convent for the larger staff of teaching Sisters that would soon be necessary. In the school's first years, the Sisters lived at Saint Paul's Convent in Harlem and commuted to Washington Heights everyday. However, on October 15, 1915 Incarnation alleviated the Sisters burden by establishing the school's first convent located at 515 West 173rd Street.

The first Graduation Exercise was held on June 29, 1916. Incarnation School had established a firm and enduring place in the Washington Heights Community.

In 1918 Incarnation Parish eclipsed 3,000 parishioners. An ever-swelling student body resulted in the school adding two additional floors, which were completed in 1925.

As the school expanded to better serve the larger student body, the church, which had been holding mass in the school auditorium since 1910, also began feeling the strain its parishioners were putting on the small auditorium. The parishioners recognized a need for increased space and a more dignified atmosphere for religious services. Under the guidance of Monsignor Delaney, funds were raised for a new church and on October 28, 1928 the corner stone for the new church was laid. The church was opened and dedicated by Patrick Cardinal Hayes on June 1, 1930.

By 1937 the parish had over 10,000 parishioners, 7,000 more than twenty years before. Three-quarters were of Irish ancestry.

Approximately 1,400 students attended Incarnation School in 1937. The additional two floors added to the building ten years prior was not enough to alleviate classroom overcrowding and the stress of teachers trying to educate classes crammed with students. The school introduced a triple session thus allowing an 800 pupil school to accommodate 1,400 children. An increase in classes required a proportionate increase in staff and the old convent had already been over-crowded for some years. Monsignor Delaney knew that Incarnation must build again. He initiated a fundraising drive to realize the funds for a new convent. Property was purchased, construction began and the new convent was ready for occupancy in October 1940.

Hundreds of young men and women from Incarnation School served in World War II. The school participated in the war-time drives of collecting tin goods, fabric, and other items.

By 1945 1,600 children were registered in the school. Monsignor Casey, in an effort to tackle the problems facing adolescent boys, invited the Christian Brothers to instruct the boys in the school's upper grades. To house the Brothers Monsignor Casey became a builder like his predecessors. He acquired two houses on 173rd Street and united them into one residence. The Brothers visible and effective influence was exercised throughout the school day and well into the night with daily and wide-ranging athletic programs.

With the addition of the Brothers, Casey never relegated to Sisters any position of lesser importance. Casey was appointed by the Cardinal as Assistant Vicar for Religious.

Always a neighborhood of immigrants, the postwar years saw an increase of Spanish speaking parishioners from Puerto Rico. Economic and political factors led to an influx of Cubans, Dominicans and families from Central and South America as well.

Monsignor Waterson accepted the challenge to integrate the newest residents into parish activities and encouraged families to enroll their children in Incarnation School.

In the nineteen seventies the school returned to single session. Incarnation experienced an increase in the number of dedicated lay teachers as the Christian Brothers departed.

During the 1980s Sister Maureen Dunn, S.C., was leader. School enrollment hovered around 630 students and there were 19 full-time academic classroom teachers. Incarnation offered Gym, Art and Music classes for each grade and students took advantage of a full-time guidance program.

Incarnation students participated in many diverse extracurricular activities such as yearbook, newspaper, Altar Boy Society, choral group, cheerleading, spelling bee, foreign mission activities, a school service program, art contest, talent show, author's day, and the production of an Instructional Television program.

Incarnation also offered a sports program under the direction of future principal Ted Staniecki. Students in 3rd – 8th grade participated in intramural basketball, boys and girls junior and varsity basketball teams, track competitions and baseball teams.

In 1996 Incarnation took forty 7th and 8th grade students to Fukuoka, Japan for a 10-day educational excursion, repeated in 1998 and 2002.

Incarnation expanded its technological resources with Internet-based lessons, access to laptop computers, educational software, and wireless networking. A science lab was set up.

Art programs[edit]

  • Acting Club – builds and refines students’ poise and public speaking skills
  • Attic Salt Theater Company – coaches third grade students to write and perform their own plays
  • Ballroom Dancing – introduces 5th grade students to the joy of dancing while instilling greater confidence and self-esteem. The American Ballroom Theater Company teaches the class.
  • Classroom Inc – places older students in the virtual shoes of a business manager responsible for supervising a company and addressing the needs of the community.
  • Friends of Nick – brings 8th grade students, parents and teachers together to discuss and commit to building integrity, perseverance, compassion and courage in students and families
  • Kinderdance – teaches our youngest students motor development, gymnastics, fitness and academic readiness skills
  • Piano Classes – introduces and refine third through seventh grade students musical ability
  • Photography Club – allows older students to explore the world through a camera lens
  • Recycling Club – educates students and faculty about the benefits of reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Yearbook Club – provides select 8th grade students with the opportunity to manage the process of creating a yearbook for the school


  • Basketball – Boys and girls may participate in the competitive Catholic Youth Organization basketball league beginning in fifth grade with our Tyros and Debs teams. Students in seventh and eighth grades may move on to the two varsity teams.
  • Soccer – Incarnation has a comprehensive soccer program which teaches students the joys and challenges of the sport. Through COSA (Carlos Oliveira Soccer Academy), students in grades 3-6 participate weekly in basic soccer skills. Our goal is to enter a team in the CYO sports league.
  • Track – Students in third through eighth grade train twice a week at the National Track & Field Hall of Fame Armory Track. Track is organized through the Archdiocesan Citytrack program
  • Sports Explorers Program: Through New York Cares, the Sports Explorers Program strives to create extracurricular opportunities for the younger grades. The overall goal of the program is to keep children active and have fun, rather than build sport-specific skills.

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