Catholic school to close its doors today

May 28, 2008 4:38:49 PM PDT
More than half a century of history ends today. Mount Carmel High School in southeast Houston is closing its doors for good.It's been about a month since the Archdiocese announced it was closing Mount Carmel. It's a move that students, faculty and alumni fought.

Everyone is trying to be very positive during today's festivities. Students, faculty and parents have been dreading the closing of the school but say they are still a family at Mount Carmel High School.

Between the songs, jokes and laughter, no one would know that there is sadness behind the smiles of these students. This is the last mass at Mount Carmel High School. The Archdiocese announced plans to shut down the 52-year-old school about a month ago.

"It's really like a shock to me how like today is the last day. It really doesn't feel like it," said student Angel Arce.

"It's been four weeks of distress," said a concerned parent. "Stress, sadness; I'm just trying to get an idea of where my kids are going to go to school next year."

Many are upset with the Archdiocese, which says money or the lack thereof due to a decline in enrollment is the reason for closing the school.

"I could have handled rather easily, I think, if they had let us know at the beginning of the year or even a semester But in two days time, just it was devastating," said teacher Darrell Lockridge.

"They could at least give us money to start the new charter school or at least stay here for one more year until we can get money," said student Bouyagui Doucoure. "But they should not just be closing us down like this."

But all hope is not lost. The school is well on its way to becoming an HISD charter school in the fall. At least $300,000 is needed for the startup, and over $150,000 has been raised in just the last 30 days. Parents and alumni have until the end of June to raise the rest. It's a goal that students and parents are praying for.

"It's definitely not the end of Mount Carmel," said student Veronica Amaya.

For now, they are concentrating on enjoying the last moments they have with their beloved school.

"Nostalgically, emotional, seeing all of these graduates brings tears to my eyes. I know I'm going to be crying most of the day," said Lockridge.

The Archdiocese was not part of today's festivities, which will run at the school until 9pm.

The Archdiocese released this statement:

    "Our prayers and best wishes are with those parents and alumni involved in the effort to create a charter school. We, at the Archdiocese of Galveston - Houston continue to provide assistance to everyone whose life will be affected by this difficult decision."
On Thursday, the school seal will be removed from the entry way.

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