DeSales High School closing: students react
Posted at: 08/02/2012 12:38 AM
| Updated at: 08/02/2012 1:04 AM
By: Amanda Ciavarri | WHEC.com
News 10NBC has heard from dozens of people in our area who are upset by the news that Desales High School in Geneva is closing.
The Board of Trustees says declining enrollment and insufficient funds are the reasons for the closure.
Students say the news is heartbreaking and shocking. The school has been open for 100 years and it is estimated that more than 5,000 people graduated from DeSales.
For Bill Hastings, going to DeSales High School was a family tradition that crossed generations.
“It’s a sad, sad day. Yeah, I can’t believe it. Not having DeSales here anymore…it was a great school, a lot of tradition and history and spirit and faith,” Hastings said.
Hastings also served on the Board of Trustees for six years. His term ended last month. He says the board had to face the issue of how to keep the school open for awhile.
“We've also been reaching out for donations. We've had some large donors to sustain us. Recently we have not. We tried to cultivate large donors, and it just wasn't happening.”
The Board made the decision to close the doors last night at a special meeting. The school and the property will now be in control of Our Lady of Peace Parish.
The Board Chairman, Peter Cheney, sent us this statement today:
"The decision to close DeSales was not made lightly, but through the hard work, objective analysis and heartfelt prayers of all of us on the board who dearly love the school."
Hastings said, “Fiscally, we looked pretty good going into the school year, but we needed the students, the bodies. Each student represents $5,200 in tuition.”
Hastings also explained the school needed 105 students to stay open, but only 78 signed up.
“Lacking 27 students at $5,2000 – that’s a lot of money, and I’m sure the board couldn’t sustain it at that time.”
At the high school on Wednesday, we saw staff packing up and carrying out their things. Students came and placed candles on the main steps.
“I took the day off of work,” Ben Maher, a 2010 DeSales graduate said. “I figured, just come back and reminisce, roam the halls, see the gym again. So many great memories. Words can’t really explain it.”
Michael Cragg, a 2012 graduate, said, “It seemed every classroom we went in, we had these memories here and there. Like he [Maher] said, we just wanted to reminisce and talk about it.”
For these two friends, they say it’s hard to know that no future students will have the memories they were able to take away from DeSales.
“This school means everything to me - my co-students, kids that graduated before me,” Cragg said. “We loved the school with a sincere passion.”
“A feeling of emptiness,” Maher said. “It just feels like something is missing. It’s hard to explain.”
A principal from a nearby Catholic high school told us there is now a scramble to get the 78 students enrolled in other schools, especially the seniors who want to play sports their last year of high school.