St. Pius V high school faces closing

Faced with declining enrollments and rising costs, the Archdiocese of New York plans to close 32 schools, including a high school in Mott Haven.

It took Krystal Molta, a junior at St. Pius V High School awhile to believe that her school might not exist next year.

She was shocked to learn when she and her fellow students arrived at their school on Courtland Avenue in November that the Archdiocese of New York planned to close the all-girls Catholic school.

“People started talking about it and I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ It was really a shock to me,” Molta said.

St. Pius is one of the 32 schools — and the only high school – slated for closing.  Despite its reputation for academic success and small class sizes, enrollment is declining and tuition is rising at the Mott Haven school.  That makes in increasingly dependent on the Archdiocese for funding, said Fran Davies, Assistant Superintendent for Communications in Education.

According to Davies, St. Pius was the only parish high school in the diocese to have problems in both areas. The enrollment trend is “markedly down,” she said, while “financial need is markedly up.”

The school’s principal, Sister Mary Jo Lynch, blames rising costs. Half the school’s students need and receive some form of financial aid, she said in a statement. In addition, charter schools have cut into the school’s enrollment.

While charter schools “are for the most part, untried, they are free,” the principal said. “If students are accepted, they offer a viable alternative to neighborhood public schools which are often deemed unsafe.”

The students, in general, were upset by the news.

“Everybody was shocked. Everybody was crying,” said freshman Amanda Lee Gonzalez.

Parents were also disappointed.

“I’m really upset with it,” said Janet Gonzalez, Amanda’s mother. She said it would be sad to see the school close, especially because her daughter liked the school and was doing well. She also said that she appreciated the school’s small size and that the principal knew all the students.

“Really, I’m kind of worried,” said Elizabeth Nunez, the mother of another freshman. She said that she didn’t know where her daughter would go next year if the school closed

According to Davies, students displaced by the school closings would be guaranteed admission to other, nearby schools. She said the archdiocese would assist families in their search.

For the girls of St. Pius, however, there are only three nearby Catholic high schools, and two are all-boys schools. Aquinas High School, another all-girls school, is about three and a half miles away.

Principals and pastors of the 32 schools the archdiocese has classified as  “at-risk” will have opportunity to make the case for keeping their schools open, said Davies.

Faculty members declined to comment, saying that they wanted to stay out of the controversy. Sister Lynch also declined to elaborate on her written statement, explaining that she did not want to say anything that would put the school’s future in jeopardy.

However, she was willing to praise her students. “They come from hard homes, some of them, but they’re motivated,” she said.

8 thoughts on “St. Pius V high school faces closing

  1. St. Pius V high school is important to so many of us girls. We created strong bonds that can never be broken even if we may not be together through the next few years of high school. St. Pius may be small but that’s a good thing. Even though it’s small we see every girl in that school at least two to three times a week. I’m a freshmen and I have friends from every grade in St. Pius. The girls there are very welcoming and being in that school makes me feel that I have another family. Plus even though the school is small you also create a bond with your teachers. I would hate for St. Pius to close. Whomever can not see that St. Pius is a good school trying to create bright successful young women out of us girls I feel bad for them.

  2. so sorry to hear about the school possibly closing.
    I graduated in 1963, my sister in 1965. It has always
    had a special place in my heart. Learned so much
    wish sometimes I had paid better attention

  3. So sorry to hear that St. Pius will be closing. I attended St. Pius from 1957 to 1961, then known as St. Pius Commercial H.S. We had wonderful teachers, the Blauvelt Dominicans, wonderful friends and wonderful good times during those 4 years. St. Pius is an institution in the Bronx that will be forever remembered by all. Good luck to all those young ladies now facing new schools to choose from. St. Pius will always remain in my heart. God Bless all those who taught us as well as those who looked after us. St. Pius, You will be missed.

    1. It’s nice to hear that you both were able to graduate from St. Pius. I am sad that I will not be able to say that for myself, considering that I am only a freshmen and I am going to have to transfer to a new school at the end of the year because it’s closing. I just wished there was something that I could do to keep my school from closing. I am going to deeply miss my friends, teachers, principal, and the whole school. Even though it’s small I will always love St. Pius. When I leave next year I will not forget where I came from. People say freshmen year is the hardest, for me it has been the best year of my life. Now I am going to have to start again in a new school. Pius will always be in my heart no matter what happens to me or where I go.

  4. I graduated from St. Pius in 1970. So sorry to hear it is closing. i remember my high school days fondly. Best of luck to the staff and all the sisters who taught there.

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