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Mt. Assisi Students, Parents, Alum Plead: 'Save Our School'

Supporters of Mt. Assisi–an all-girl Catholic high school in Lemont—are turning to every corner of the web to drum up support for their beloved school of 63 years.

Mt. Assisi sophomore Katie O'Leary can't imagine going to high school anywhere else.

Despite the news that her beloved school will close in June, she's not ready to consider her other options. 

Like many others, O'Leary so loves her school, she'll do whatever she can to keep it open, including starting a Facebook page (now 6,767 strong just days after inception) set on rallying supporters and raising funds.

"We're not sure how successful it will be," O'Leary said, of her efforts with page cofounder Keri Biederman. "But there are a lot of girls willing to give."

The school announced Jan. 29 that it will shutter in June, citing increased financial strain and declining enrollment. Potential incoming freshmen and their families will be informed in a letter dated January 30.

"We have looked very closely at our ability to continue to deliver an excellent Catholic education. The economic realities facing everyone, including the Church, have forced us to consider what is possible given the resources we have at our disposal," the school wrote in a statement on the website.

Though the situation is stated as dire, supporters remain true to their school—and won't let it go down without a fight. Students, alumni and other schools are attempting to drum up financial support for the school. An additional website and PayPal—Save Mt. Assisi sprung up. The site is now redirecting visitors to the school's website for direct donations. So far, the efforts combined have raised $1,357.46.

It's been said the school will need between $4–5 million to stay open. But the money is only half the battle—enrollment needs to increase substantially.

"The steady decline in enrollment accompanied by various levels of funding deficits has been occurring over the last seven years," school administrators said in a statement. "Great efforts have been made in recruiting and fund raising in our effort to keep the school going. We waited to see possible enrollment numbers for next year hoping for good news."

Staff hoped for 55 girls at this year's placement test; just 44 sat for the exam.

O'Leary's younger sister was one of those who sat for the exam. With the school's closure, she'll now have to choose a new school. O'Leary is heartbroken her sibling won't get to share in her experience.

"The campus is beautiful, everyone knows each other," O'Leary said, of her fondness for the school. "All of the teachers are so wonderful here."

The day after the announcement, students muffled cries, while some sobbed openly at the news. Members of the sophomore class worried they won't be able to celebrate receiving their junior rings inside the school they adore. Students from other schools—Moher McAuley, Marist—have all flocked to the Facebook page to share encouragement and comfort. 

None of it lessens O'Leary's fear. 

"This school is home to me."

Bob Wadas February 03, 2014 at 09:35 AM
44 kids took placement test, $1300 of 5,000,000 raised. Time to say goodbye.

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