By Elizabeth Hur
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A final appeal was made to the alumni of a local Catholic high school slated for closure.
The message was loud and clear – it’s now or never.
“The appeal process was only announced on January 6th and all the appeals have to be done by the end of January and I need to be able to see what is concretely available in terms of money to bring along with our plans of how we go forward,” Rev. James Olson said.
As the president of Archbishop Prendergast and Monsignor Bonner High School, Rev. Olson gathered alums and concerned parents Tuesday night to announce that the school has so far raised about $250,000. It’s an impressive amount but still insufficient.
Rev. Olson explained, “I don’t have an exact figure but I believe that we would need somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.5 million to be able to say we’re solid here now and a clear path to $5 million. I really believe if we had $5 million that we would be able to continue on for a good long future because we would have a strong financial base to go alone with our strong educational Catholic plan.”
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Blue Ribbon Commission named Bonner and Prendie as one of four Catholic high schools recommended for closure by the end of this school year.
Knowing, however, this is a decision that could be reversed, students and supporters have been holding meetings and rallies to fight the closure. Olson understood their passion but reminded everyone at the meeting, time is running out and at this point, the school needs monetary donations to keep its doors open.
Tom McHale, Bonner ’57 graduate told Eyewitness News, “I think there’s certainly a possibility that we should be able to keep things going.”
Lisa Rae, Prendergast ’85 graduate added, “Knowing what this school has done for the community, I’ll do anything I can to help save the school.”
Marybeth Wells, Prendergast ’81 graduate said, “I feel hopeful we’ll get it done.”
Frank Melvin, Bonner ’68 graduate said, “God bless everybody. I hope we reach our goal.”
Following the meeting, Olson said the school collected more than $50,000 onsite. Those who didn’t come with a checkbook made donations online using the laptops the school provided. The online donations had not been tallied by late Tuesday night.
Olson is scheduled to meet with the Blue Ribbon Commission on Monday, January 23rd to formally appeal the decision. Olson says he will keep that appointment if enough funds are raised by the end of this week.