The four Archdiocesan high schools slated for closure this June had their appeals granted and will remain open, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced at a press conference on Friday, Feb. 24.
Monsignor Bonner/Archbishop Prendergast, St. Hubert, Conwell-Egan and West Catholic were on the Blue Ribbon Commission’s list of recommended closures after the current school year. Chaput noted the community as one of the primary reasons that the schools will now remain open.
“The show of support for these schools from parents, alumni and friends in the community has been rather extraordinary,” Chaput said. “These people believe in Catholic education and want to fight to make our schools healthy again.”
Bonner/Prendie, originally separated into two buildings, will merge into one, while the other three schools will continue to provide secondary education in the coming years.
Reports had surfaced prior to Chaput’s 3 p.m. press conference that the four schools would remain open. At St. Hubert’s, a party-like atmosphere preceded the announcement. Students erupted in loud cheering upon confirmation that their efforts and prayers had paid off.
The celebration continued on the front steps of the school. In the same place where they made their presence and fight known in rallies just days after the initial announcement, the girls of St. Hubert’s celebrated their victory.
“Everyone was crying but it was all tears of joy,” St. Hubert’s junior Sarah King said. “I’m so happy I get to finish out my high school years here.”
“I’m the happiest person in the world,” St. Hubert’s junior Kate Brighter said. “I’m just so happy that I actually get to graduate from here.”
The announcement on the status of these schools was initially scheduled on Feb. 17. However, several anonymous donors made a substantial proposal with one condition: all four schools stay open. The announcement was postponed for a week while Chaput considered the offer.
Chaput said that the announcement he had planned that day was much different from the one he made on Friday. Over 20,000 donations were made during the appeals process for all four schools raising over $12 million.
At the time of the announcement, Bonner/Prendie had reported $5 million in their fundraising efforts. Hubert’s had raised $1.3 million.
That $12 million will be the start for a $100 million foundation over the next five years in support of Philadelphia Catholic education.
Chaput also said that much of this foundation would benefit from the support of politicians, including Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett, who were influential in keeping the schools open.
St. Hubert’s students told Loquitur about their efforts shortly after the initial announcement and said they had hoped that their efforts would be recognized and their second home would be saved. Now, they and the other three high schools can celebrate their victory and keep their second homes for the foreseeable future.
“It’s just amazing knowing that we won,” St. Hubert’s senior Casey Berner said. “It’s the best knowing I can come back home when I graduate.”