SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – St. Elizabeth Academy, a Catholic school educating girls in south St. Louis for more than 130 year, abruptly announced to students and parent Tuesday that they’ll be closing their doors at the end of the year. In a statement, administrators cited declining enrollment and growing deficits as reason for the closure.
Tuesday afternoon, as students left after school activities, there was still a sense of shock.
“I’m a little depressed because this was probably the best two years of my life,” sophomore Sarah Duda said.
Students say there was an assembly called a little after 2pm, and no one knew what it was for. There, administrators dropped the bombshell.
“They just showed us like, a graph of how the student enrollment would go down each year,” junior Kyria Patrick said. And those were the reasons given to close.
“There was a lot of crying,” junior Jasmine Middleton said. “Everybody was just bawling because, ya know it’s kind of tough you build a bond with people for years and stuff. It’s like a home. This is like my home. It’s hard.”
Parents report receiving panicked texts from inside the school, the phone calls from their daughters in tears.
“I’m in disbelief right now,” Danee Williams, a parent, said. “Shocked. A little heartbroken, and don’t know where to go from here. We’re gonna just pray on it and see.”
Even the kids will tell you there are financial worries as well.
“It’s hard because other schools tuition isn’t as reasonable as ours and a lot of people can’t afford it and we don’t really know what to do,” Patrick said.
In a statement, the schools operators, the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood in O’Fallon, laid out the issues.
“For more than a century, St. Elizabeth Academy has made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of young women, carrying out our mission to develop the successful woman inside each girl. That is why this was such a heartbreaking decision. However after more than three years of discussion, intense research, input, and prayer we see no other way. Sadly the declining enrollment, the increasing deficit, and the cost of maintaining the aging physical plant make it no longer feasible to continue,” said Sister Susan Borgel, CPPS, President of the School.
But that none of it changes the fact that most of the girls here will be forced to a new school. Forced to start over.
“We can’t graduate from here. And we were just so ready for our senior year, and our prom and everything,” Patrick said. “It just hit us hard, like really hard. I have to process it for a while.”
School will remain in session through the end of this school year.