NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mother Cabrini High School, the all-girls Washington Heights institution founded by St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, is closing after 115 years.
For much of its existence, the school served Irish and Italian immigrants. Now the student body is entirely Latino, mostly Dominican.
But, as CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, there are too many scholarships and not enough paying students.
School President Bruce Segall said he wept like many of his students when the decision to close the school was finally made.
“We couldn’t save it,” he said.
“This is one of the last schools that I knew of that really had a mission to the poor,” Segall added. “Unfortunately, Catholic education, because of finances, is now mostly middle and upper class.”
The school says it will graduate its last senior class in June and try to place the remaining freshmen, sophomores and juniors in other Catholic schools.
“That’s not even fair,” said Jailene Guerrero, a junior, crying. “It’s not fair at all.”
“It’s like a second home,” said junior Jennifer Levy. “Literally, I spend all my time here.”
“A lot of them, they’re the first in their families to graduate high school and definitely the first to go to college,” said Sister Antonina Avitabile.
Some parents and alumni vowed to save the school, but trustees said the numbers don’t lie.
“The hymn writing has been on the wall a number of years, and this is it,” Avitable said.
Parents faced with the task of finding a new school for their children said they feel betrayed.
“What does it mean to the immigrant community,” said Elsie Brea-Arias, a Cabrini mother. “Where are we going? Where are we going to send our girls to?”
One nun imagined what Mother Cabrini herself, whose body is entombed under glass in the shrine next door, might advice.
“Mother Cabrini would say, ‘We got to go with the flow,'” Sister Maria Loretta said.
The shrine will remain open, tended by the remaining members of the religious order she also founded.
Cabrini died in 1917 and was canonized in 1946.
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