Thomas Collins becomes Archbishop Stepinac High School's 9th president
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WHITE PLAINS — The Rev. Thomas Collins, his two brothers and those brothers' five sons are all graduates of Archbishop Stepinac High School.
After he was ordained, Collins — the only one of six siblings to go to seminary — came back to his alma mater in 1995 as a teacher and has stayed there ever since.
His parents, who used to live across the street from the boys Catholic school, have been White Plains residents for 35 years.
So it is no small point of pride for the Collins clan that the family priest was unanimously chosen this month as the school's new president.
"The great excitement of it is that I have a long tradition here," said Collins, 50, who has salt-and-pepper hair, a friendly smile and wears rimless glasses. "Now that you're the president of the school, it makes you feel great that you're going to continue the tradition and yet blaze a new future, move forward."
He replaced Msgr. Anthony Marchitelli, who was credited with improving the school's academic rigor in his eight years as its leader. Marchitelli was named administrator of Our Lady of the Assumption parish in the Bronx at the same time Collins took over at Stepinac.
Collins, who lives at the school, is starting his work amid significant transitions for the 63-year-old institution. Stepinac is in the middle of a $1.9 million turf field construction and an upgrade to its theater space, with all new seats and air conditioning. Freshmen enrollment at the 600-student school is at its highest point in a decade, at 187.
But, perhaps most importantly, the school just completed its first year of independence from the Archdiocese of New York, which spun off its 11 high schools due to budgetary loses.
"Now that we're independent, we need a leader to pull people together," said Tom Martin, vice chairman of Stepinac's board of trustees, which selected Collins. "I can't say enough about the guy, that he's the right guy moving forward."
Rich Massaroni, whose son graduated from Stepinac in 2006, described Collins as kind, personable and well-educated. "I believe he's got the credentials to lead Stepinac further into the future," Massaroni said. "It's the right time for Stepinac."
Collins graduated from Iona College in New Rochelle in 1983 with a bachelor's in business administration. He continued his studies at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, and was ordained in 1992. He was first assigned to Stepinac for a three-year stint and started teaching theology.
Over the years, he continued to rise in the ranks at Stepinac and his term there continued to be extended. In 2002, he became dean of students and, in 2007, he took over the school's Office of Development.
An avid golfer, he's also coached the school's golf team for 15 years.
"I see it as nothing but bright," Collins said of the school's future. "We have so many really good things going on."