St. Scholastica Academy, the renowned girls Catholic high school in Rogers Park, is closing its doors.
Here is the Chicago Tribune story:
More than a decade of sliding enrollment and dwindling donations have forced the closing of St. Scholastica Academy, the venerable girls Catholic high school whose roots in Chicago trace back to the 1860s, officials said Wednesday.
Sister Patricia Crowley, prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago, which has sponsored St. Scholastica for nearly 150 years, said the school fell into a financial hole years ago and simply hasn’t the money to continue. The academy will close at the end of this school year, Crowley said.
“(The school) has always prided itself on training young women and empowered them to become leaders in civic spheres, in education, business, religion,” Crowley said. “We have trained young women to have a social conscience in the ways of the Gospel.”
Wednesday evening, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich made a plea for donations to help keep the school going as he made his final public statement before beginning his prison term for corruption.
Enrollment at St. Scholastica, which has occupied the same red brick monastery in Rogers Park since 1906, has dropped from more than 1,000 students a couple of decades ago to just 147 this year, Crowley said. The slide has come as Chicago Public Schools has improved education offerings at some of its elite public high schools and as some boys Catholic schools have gone co-ed.
Crowley said the declining enrollment, combined with shrinking financial gifts from alumnae during the prolonged recession, ultimately doomed the school beloved by generations of women.
“The fact that this school has excelled in women’s education is a great contribution to the city of Chicago,” Crowley said. “It was such a strong educational institution, and at the same time, so socially committed.”
Crowley said if demand is high enough, current juniors could have the option to continue attending what will be called St. Scholastica Senior Academy for another year to earn their diplomas.
Even for former students and employees who knew of the school’s increasingly shaky finances, news of the closing brought a flood of emotions.
Anne Matz, a 1985 graduate who later returned as a teacher and then principal, held back tears as she recalled the life lessons learned at the school.
“It was the most wonderful school in the world,” said Matz, who studied or worked at St. Scholastica for 20 years. “I am a successful woman because of the school and because of what I learned there. Not only in the realm of academics but in being a lifelong learner and a person of high moral standards.”
Matz said her mother, her sister and her aunt were also graduates of St. Scholastica.
“It died a slow death,” Matz said. “There were moments over the last decade of turnarounds and great hope, and I always had faith that girls beyond my generation would be able to take advantage of that.”