Before their days of politicking around Queens, Councilmember Eric Ulrich and Senator Joseph Addabbo both took classes and played in the schoolyard at Nativity Blessed Virgin Mary School, though they weren’t in the same class.
Addabbo attended first through eighth grade at Nativity, now known as Divine Mercy Catholic Academy. He recalled the “strict, tough nuns” who ran classes, treasuring the insight they provided for his educational foundation. Addabbo gravitated towards mathematics and science, but saved room in his schedule for the arts. He enjoyed drawing, and in sixth grade, Addabbo submitted a hand-drawn, patriotic poster to a school-wide contest. The poster depicted a map of the United States and the busts of three American presidents – Washington, Lincoln and Kennedy – and the sentence “They did a lot for America. Now what can you do?” The poster won the contest and was sent on to compete at a national level.
Addabbo graduated in 1978 and went on to attend Archbishop Molloy, where he graduated from in 1982. He said many of his grade school friends joined him in high school, some even went to the same college. He keeps in touch with many of them still through phone calls and e-mail.
Politics did not become a major part of Addabbo’s life until he was in college. He claimed that while in grammar school, he understood what his father, Congressmember Joseph Addabbo, Sr., did for a living. His dad told him that his focus should always be about helping people, a mantra he believes he has never lost sight of.
Ulrich attended fifth through eighth grade at Nativity. An active member of the school’s bowling team, Ulrich also played in the Ozone Howard Little League, catching pop flies in left field on his baseball team. Ulrich enjoyed classes in American History, especially those focusing on the Civil War.
One of his favorite grade school memories surrounds the school’s morning line-up. Every day before classes would commence, students and parents gathered in the schoolyard. Father Angelo, Nativity’s priest, greeted everyone, asking them about their days.
“Everyone was running around,” said Ulrich. “It was something to look forward to.”
Ulrich graduated from Nativity in 1999.
Father Paul Palmiotto, a pastor for the past three years, said he sees both Ulrich and Addabbo at Sunday church services and occasionally gets the chance to chat with the two after Mass.
“Both of them are very good people,” said Palmiotto. “Their Catholic upbringing comes forth [in their personalities.]”