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Holy Angels Academy, prep school to close in June

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

An all-girls Catholic school in North Buffalo will be closing at the end of this school year. Holy Angels Academy and Holy Angles Prep on Hertel Avenue announced Tuesday the schools are shutting down due to low enrollment.

The Academy's Board of Trustees and the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart made the difficult decision after months of discussions. Trustee Maureen Maguire says the school will close June 30.

Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
Maureen Maguire, Holy Angels Academy Board of Trustees

"We have seen declining population in the City of Buffalo. More importantly, we've had a decline in the student population over the last several years. Simultaneously, a number of our important feeder schools, parochial schools who typically send girls to Holy Angels, have closed over the past few years," Maguire told WBFO News.

Maguire says the school was unable to repay a $1 million loan provided by the Grey Nuns to keep the school operating. 

"We've been routinely reviewing data and discussing strategies for continuing in operation and growing enrollment. We had hoped until very, very recently that we would be able to continue," Maguire said.

Teachers, students, staff and parents were informed of the closing around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

About 240-students attend Holy Angels.  Five meetings with parents will be held this week to help with future choices. http://youtu.be/o8oMT9nloWs

Students rally against closing

Students returned to the school Tuesday night to rally against the closing. They staged a protest in front of the school. 

News of the closing spread quickly on social media.  Tracy Diina -- a 1987- graduate -- was shocked by the announcement.

"Very shocked.  I wasn't aware that there was the extend of the problem," said Diina.

Diina her three sisters and mother all attended the school. 

"It's sad for all of us," said Diina.

2007 graduate Emily Marciniak is also upset. Her younger sister is a sophomore at the school.  

"My family is really just in shock right now. They're just trying to think of what the next step will be," said Marciniak.

The school was founded by the Grey Nuns in 1861. The prep school for students in 6th through 8th grade opened just this past fall.  It is unable to repay a $1-million  loan provided by the Nuns to keep the school operating. Marciniak jumped on Facebook Tuesday announcing a fundraising event  this coming Monday night at Fatbob's in downtown Buffalo to give back to the nuns who educated so many young women in this community. 

Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
Holy Angels Academy founded by the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in 1861

School president Joan Thomas issued a statement saying she had the "sad duty" of announcing the closing. 

The following is a statement issued by Holy Angels Academy president Joan Thomas:

"I have the sad duty of announcing that Holy Angels Academy and Holy Angels Prep will close at the end of this academic year. The Board of Trustees and the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart made this decision after months of discussion, data analysis, and deliberation among themselves and with school leaders. The decision is difficult to accept, but it is final.

This is a very painful time for anyone associated with Holy Angels. The decision impacts our families, students, faculty and staff, alumnae, benefactors, and our surrounding community. The girls of Holy Angels Academy have enriched our lives with their remarkable spirits, intelligence, and talents, and teaching them has been our very great privilege. We know that they will have wonderful futures, and it saddens us deeply that Holy Angels Academy will not be a part of their lives in the years ahead.

Right now, our priorities are our students and their parents, and our faculty and staff. We are working closely with area schools to help our girls select and transfer to the school which is best for each of them. Additionally, we are hopeful that area Catholic and independent schools will give our faculty and staff serious consideration when openings arise.
Attributable to Joan D. Thomas, President, Holy Angels."

The following statement was issued by the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart:

"For 152 years, we have educated young women to serve and to lead, in the tradition of St. Marguerite d’Youville, foundress of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.  We have guided them for generations, challenging them intellectually, helping them to grow in faith, and nurturing a sense of social justice and compassion.

We have watched with great joy and humility, as our alumnae have gone on to serve their communities and their families, excelling in their chosen professions.  And we have been gratified as year after year, decade after decade, our graduates have returned to school, to reminisce about the rich experiences they shared at Holy Angels Academy, to renew old friendships, and to share a favorite story with us.  While it deeply saddens us, we know that, going forward, the spirit of St. Marguerite d’Youville is safe in their hands and that they will share it with family, friends and generations of young women to come."

Bishop Richard J. Malone issued the following statement regarding Holy Angels Academy:  

Bishop Richard J. Malone issued the following statement regarding Holy Angels Academy:

"Since 1861, the Grey Nuns have been dedicated to educating generations of young women in Buffalo to meet their potential:  spiritually, intellectually and physically.  We are all saddened to hear of the decision of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, the Board of Trustees of Holy Angels Academy and Holy Angels Prep to close the school at the end of this school year.

I encourage the families of Holy Angels' students to consider furthering their Catholic education at any of our surrounding Catholic elementary schools and Catholic high schools.  I ask our school communities to work diligently to make it a smooth transition for these young women as they move to a new educational setting.

Moving forward, I know that alumnae from Holy Angels Academy, through their service and the exemplary lives that they lead, will continue the legacy of the Grey Nuns, in the spirit of St. Marguerite d'Youville, giving of themselves to help others."