Power Memorial Academy

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Power Memorial Academy
161 West 61st Street


Coordinates40°46′17.53″N 73°59′9.33″W / 40.7715361°N 73.9859250°W / 40.7715361; -73.9859250Coordinates: 40°46′17.53″N 73°59′9.33″W / 40.7715361°N 73.9859250°W / 40.7715361; -73.9859250
School typeall boys Catholic High school
MottoPro Christo Rege
Religious affiliation(s)Catholic Church
OpenedSeptember 1931
ClosedJune 1984
OversightArchdiocese of New York
School color(s)Purple, gold, silver and red
Athletics conferenceCatholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA)
AffiliationCongregation of The Irish Christian Brothers

Power Memorial Academy (PMA) was an all-boys Catholic high school in New York City that operated from 1931 through 1984. It was a basketball powerhouse, producing several NBA players including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,[1] Len Elmore,[2] Mario Elie,[3] Chris Mullin,[4] as well as NBA referee Dick Bavetta and a record 71-game winning streak. Its 1964 basketball team was named "The #1 High School Team of The Century".



In 1906, Monsignor James W. Power, pastor of All Saints Parish in Harlem, asked the Christian Brothers of Ireland (now the Congregation of Christian Brothers) to come to the United States and open a school to teach the boys of the largely Irish immigrant parish.[5] The Brothers accepted the invitation and began to teach in the parochial school. In 1909 they also opened the All Hallows Collegiate Institute, located in four rowhouses at 15 West 124th Street, which was both a high school and a business college.[6] Enrollment grew and a new building was acquired to accommodate a larger student body at 164th Street and Walton Avenue in the Bronx, to which the high school moved in 1929.[7]

At the request of the Archdiocese of New York, the Christian Brothers re-occupied the former site of All Hallows and opened a new school, named Power Memorial Academy after Monsignor Power, who had died in 1926. The new school opened with an enrollment of 31 freshmen on September 21, 1931.[7] Again the school grew, requiring more space. In 1938, the Brothers purchased the former New York Nursery & Child's Hospital at 161 West 61st Street and opened a new school there.[8] The school remained at this address until it closed.

A student murdered[edit]

On March 15, 1948, Marko L. Markovich opened fire on students practicing for the St. Patrick's Day parade, killing one, Thomas Brady, and wounding six others.[9] "Mad gunman kills boy here, wounds six before capture" read the front-page headline on the New York Times. In memoriam, the academy marched in the parade without music, their flags and drums wrapped in black. The parade was attended by President Harry S. Truman and Governor Thomas E. Dewey.


By the early 1980s, the school building was judged to have deteriorated to such an extent that the Brothers were unable to afford the necessary repairs.[7] In June 1984, Power Memorial Academy closed its doors. The property was sold the following year for $13 million.[10] The building was demolished and a luxury apartment building was built on the site.


Basketball powerhouse[edit]

Power Memorial started a basketball program in the late 1930s, winning All-City championships in 1937 and 1941; and the Metropolitan Championship in 1942. Over its history, it won a total of eight New York City Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) championships.

In 1961 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) freshman Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) joined the basketball team. Alcindor led the team to 27 consecutive victories and the 1963 CHSAA championship. The winning streak continued as the team went undefeated and won the CHSAA in 1964. The streak finally ended at 71 games on January 30, 1965 when DeMatha High School of Hyattsville, Maryland defeated Power, 46-43. That was one of only 6 losses in Alcindor's high school career (96–6). The 1963-64 team was named "The #1 High School Team of The Century" by National Sports Writers[11] and was inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame as the team of the century.

Power Memorial continued to be known as a basketball powerhouse, although it never repeated the total dominance of the early 1960s. All-Americans Len Elmore, Ed Searcy and Jap Trimble were on the 1970 team that won the CHSAA and was named "Number 1 Team in the Country". Mario Elie played and Chris Mullin also played at Power in the late 1970s, although Mullin later transferred to Xaverian High School.

The Power Memorial basketball teams were coached by:

  • Jack Donohue – Varsity Head Coach 1959-1965 (went on to coach the Canadian National Basketball Team)
  • Dick Percudani - Junior Varsity Coach & Assistant Varsity Coach 1959-1965
  • Jack Kuhnert – Varsity Head Coach 1965-1970
  • Brendan Malone - Junior Varsity Coach 1967-1969 & Varsity Coach 1970-1976
  • Andre Anselme
  • James Raysor led the freshmen team and won the City Championship
  • Steve Donohue-Player and last Varsity Head Coach


Three PMA players were drafted by major league teams:[12]

Alumni association[edit]

In 1989, former faculty member Rich Coppolino organized a reunion, attended by 200. It has grown into a larger annual reunion. In 2002 a formal alumni association was created under the name Power Memorial Academy Alumni Association. Each year since 2002, the alumni association has made an annual appearance in the New York St. Patrick's Day parade. The association has won seven consecutive awards for its performance in the parade.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Litsky, Frank. "SCOUTING; Boxing at Power", The New York Times, March 5, 1983. Accessed September 10, 2008
  2. ^ a b Staff. "MARYLAND WINS 8TH IN ROW, 76-58; Home Crowd Boos Terps in Victory Over Kent", The New York Times, January 3, 1973. Accessed September 10, 2008. "Len Elmore, from New York's Power Memorial Academy, tied a Maryland record by grabbing 24 rebounds. He scored 10 points."
  3. ^ a b Staff. "The Mario Elie file", The Austin American-Statesman, May 7, 1997. Accessed September 10, 2008. "HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS: Attended Power Memorial, the same school that produced Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor). As a sophomore, starred on an undefeated junior-varsity team with Chris Mullin, who transferred after the season."
  4. ^ a b Kirkpatrick, Curry. "Just A Guy From Da Naybuhhood: St. John's hoopaholic Chris Mullin may be the King of Queens, but he belongs (pale) body and soul to his beloved borough of Brooklyn ", Sports Illustrated, November 26, 1984. Accessed September 10, 2008. "At Power Memorial, which produced the former Lew Alcindor, not to mention Len Elmore, before closing its doors last spring, Mullin's teams won both the freshman and jayvee city championships."
  5. ^ "Context: Letter from Harry Boland to Reverend James W. Power..." catalogue.nli.ie. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  6. ^ Remigius Lafort, S.T.D., Censor, The Catholic Church in the United States of America: Undertaken to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of His Holiness, Pope Pius X. Volume 3: The Province of Baltimore and the Province of New York, Section 1: Comprising the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn, Buffalo and Ogdensburg Together with some Supplementary Articles on Religious Communities of Women.. (New York City: The Catholic Editing Company, 1914), p. 309.
  7. ^ a b c "About this website". Power Memorial Academy.
  8. ^ "New York Nursery and Child's Hospital". Weil-Cornell University.
  9. ^ "Fanatic Kills One Boy, Wounds 6 More". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. March 16, 1948. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  10. ^ New York Sunday News article by Bill Reel, January 13, 1985
  11. ^ John (Jack) Cunningham, Author and Founder of CAProductions
  12. ^ BaseballDraft: Draft picks who came from Power Memorial (New York, NY)
  13. ^ Staff. "Centrowitz's 4:10.6 Mile Marks Schoolboy Track; TRACK EVENTS", The New York Times, May 20, 1973. Accessed September 27, 2008. "Matt Centrowitz of Power Memorial continued his impressive spring running and Mark Belger of Mepham took the measure of Bill Dabney of Boy Games."
  14. ^ Johnny Ezersky, Basketball-Reference.com. Accessed September 10, 2008