Students outraged over school's closure

HOUSTON The crying continued all day as students faced the harsh reality they will not come back to Mt. Carmel High School next year.

Student Sophia Uribe said, "They expect us to go somewhere else, to make new friends like nothing, when we're here, we've made friends. We've made connections."

"This is all the people I know. They're just going to take them away from us," said student Hernan Mares. "What are we going to do? Other schools, they charge more tuition."

For all the uncertainty, anxiety and unanswered questions, the students tried to calm themselves with prayer. For adults, the clsoing of the school has serious consequences. Mt. Carmel High School has one of the lowest tuitions of area Catholic high schools.

"There's no other school that caters to the students we do," explained teacher Darrell Lockridge. "A lot of these students can't get into St. Thomas, St. Agnes. They have higher standards. They can come here and we provide them a Catholic education they may not get elsewhere."

Parent Elaine Edwards said, "This is the only affordable education in the city of Houston. Everything else is quite a bit higher. I went to school here and I want my children to go to school here."

The archdiocese provided no answers, no explanation for their decision, only saying the school is not for sale. There was only avoidance when asked if declining enrollment played a role in the decision.

" I can't answer that right now, said Claudia Deschamps. "Tonight the answers are going to come."

Despite the lack of answers, students are focusing on their own futures.

"It's so much to understand. I'm probably never going to see my friends again," said student Mary Carmen Marroquin. "(Next year I'll) probably go to public school."

To help students in the transition of transferring to another Catholic high school, the archdiocese has asked the admissions directors of the eight area Catholic high schools to meet at Mt. Carmel next Tuesday to discuss what, if anything, can be done to provide financial assistance.

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