Catholic schools across the Philadelphia area are waiting for some big news. On Friday, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will announce if schools slated to close or consolidate will be allowed to stay open. As at many other schools, there is sadness and anticipation at St. Hubert Catholic High School, the largest Catholic girls’ high school in Philadelphia.
It’s not a challenge to find a St. Hubert student ready to speak passionately about the school.
“This is the reason I wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning and I don’t leave until 7:15 at night everyday,” said junior Claire Alminde. “Everything that I do and everything that I basically am, is this school. It’s like the funnest place on Earth, besides Disney World.”
Alminde is one of those hyper-involved students who devotes most of her waking hours to this place. “I do student council, I’m a Bambie Ambassador which is our recruitment program, I’m on National Honor Society, our Community Service Corps, I’m on Spanish Club, Chinese Culture Club, Hub Tube — I’m on TV here, radio, you name it, I do it,” she said.Alminde said it’s hard to believe the school she loves so much, could really close.”It feels like a nightmare,” said Aliminde. “It’s so hard to focus on anything anymore because it’s really all you think about.”Senior Erin Adelsberger said she’s lucky she’ll graduate from St. Hubert’s either way. But that doesn’t mean the appeal doesn’t matter to her.”It’s difficult because my grandmother was the first graduating class and all my aunts went there and Huberts was my home and it’s been like in my blood,” Adelsberger said, “so like my children gonna go there and my grandchildren are gonna go there and it’s upsetting in that way.”Gavin Goschinski planned to send his eighth grade daughter to St. Hubert next year.”I’ve never seen anything in this community unify people the way that this cause has,” said Goschinski. “In Mayfair, or Northeast Philadelphia there’s five people and ten opinions on any given issue and this is a unified entire community front: business leaders, everyone is involved in this.”Kathryn Ott Lovell, a 1992 St. Hubert grad, has been actively fundraising for the school.”We have about $800,000 in cash raised and we have an additional $80,000 in pledges over multiple years to keep it vital and sustainable and it comes from over 6,000 individual gifts, it comes from 14 different events held over two weeks,” said Lovell. “It’s from coin drops and bake sales and collections in churches, the girls who go here the money they got for their birthday.”Other Catholic schools are raised millions as part of their bid to stay open. When asked if money raised by schools will have any impact on the success of their appeal, Archdiocese spokesman Kenneth Gavin said finances are part of the picture, but it’s important that schools be able to show a long-term plan for sustainability including strong enrollment numbers. St. Hubert students have been checking out other schools in case their appeal is unsuccessful.St. Basil Academy in Jenkintown, a Catholic girls school not overseen by the diocese, has welcomed St. Hubert students and their families to check out the school, and is even offered a discount. Maureen Walsh is the Director of Admissions at St. Basil.”We’re a good Plan B if they need a Plan B,” said Walsh. “What we’re doing is for students transferring in from a closing Diocesan school there’s a percentage discount. So next year’s tuition would be $8,950. Our current students next year will be paying $10,500.”Since tuition at diocese high schools is $5,600, Walsh says St. Basil is raising money from its alumni to bolster the financial aid it can offer to students transferring from closing schools. She said it’s sad to see what the St. Hubert students are going through and she says it’s not just money — the school’s thinking of all the ways it can be welcoming.”We talked about courses, AP, extra hiring of staff, some of our students were discussing about blending our mascot the panther and the bambies and how we might do that,” said Walsh.Walsh said she hopes St. Hubert will stay open.