After weeks of gloom over the anticipated closure of West Philadelphia Catholic High School, the community is now elated the school will remain open.
“Today, West embraces all present students with joy and calls on all young men and women who are looking for a strong, healthy high school experience to come forward quickly to reserve a place as a member of the class of 2016,” shared the West Catholic administration, faculty and staff to its students.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced last month because of millions of dollars in donations and pledges, four archdiocesan high schools set to close in June would remain open.
Other schools listed were St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls in Holmesburg, Conwell-Egan in Fairless Hills and Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast in Drexel Hill.
A West Catholic graduate of the 2007 class, Roxanne Pogue was devastated when she initially learned of the plans to close West Catholic.
“My heart sank,” she said. “I was hoping that it was just a rumor since the Archdiocese has been closing so many schools in the city.”
Through social media updates and posts, many current and former students have shed light on why the school is cherished.
For Pogue, West Catholic has been a reminder of her growth as a young adult and the lifelong bonds that have been created.
“This school is important because it is a piece of history,” she said. “This building and the values have been a landmark in the West Philly community as a place of diversity, opportunity and spiritual growth.
“I came into West Catholic as a student who was unable to graduate from my own elementary school because it was closed by the Archdiocese,” Pogue added. “I would hate to see this happen to someone else, especially during the high school years.”
Like most, Pogue was thrilled to hear the news that the school will remain open.
“I immediately updated my Facebook status,” she said. “People contacted me about the news and I called other people to tell them the wonderful news. It was important to keep the school open because it is a symbol of how far the school has come over the years.
“From being West Catholic Boys and West Catholic Girls to being just West Catholic was a major stepping stone,” Pogue said. “It shows that we have the capability to work together and combine our efforts and resources to keep the school open. I loved being able to walk around West Philly and point out to friends and family that ‘this is the school that I went to.’ I can't imagine taking the 21 bus into Center City and not seeing the building there.”
The Archdiocese credits millions of dollars in donations for keeping open four high schools originally slated for closure.
“Close to $20,000 in financial donations have come in from everyday working lay people,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput. “These people believe in Catholic education and want to fight to make our schools healthy again.”
–6ABC contributed to this report.