Our Lady of Nazareth Academy to close

WAKEFIELD -- Our Lady of Nazareth Academy will close at the end of the 2008-09 academic year, according to an announcement made by its governing congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky (SCN).

The congregation cited the current economic downturn and declining enrollment for the decision to shutter the all-girls Catholic high school after more than 60 years.

SCN representative Sister Rose Howard, director of congregational ministries, made the announcement Jan. 29 to faculty, parents and students, expressing deep regret at the closing.

“We have been concerned for some time about the school’s financial health but recent events compelled us to take this difficult action this week. We are truly saddened to have to take this step,” Sister Rose said.

SCN’s decision was based on the school’s escalating financial challenges, including low enrollment and decreased tuition revenue, increased operating costs, and lack of sufficient capital to improve antiquated facilities.

“Nazareth Academy’s 13-member local advisory board has worked tirelessly to improve the school’s financial picture, including recruiting a dynamic principal and stepping up student recruitment and marketing efforts,” said Sister Rose. “So it is with heavy hearts that we have made the decision to close this ministry.”

“We know how devastating this news is for the young women who have been entrusted to our care and their families, as well as our 36-member faculty and staff, and thousands of alumnae and friends,” said board chair and alumna Sheila M. Doherty. “Our priority right now is to develop a comprehensive transition plan for each student and make the next five months of the school year the best experience it can be for all involved.

“After more than 60 years of educating young women for lives of leadership and service, we are committed to bringing the school to rest with dignity and grace,” added Doherty. “There are thousands of women out there who have shared the common experience of Nazareth Academy and the school will continue to make an impact through these women.”

Nazareth Academy leaders have begun reaching out to area schools to enlist their help and support. Special meetings are being held with students and parents by class to aid them in planning their transition.