By Pat Ciarrocchi, Todd Quinones, Mike DeNardo and Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– Four Catholic High Schools that were targeted for closure by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will remain open. Archbishop Charles Chaput made the announcement Friday afternoon.
Students at Bonner-Prendie, Saint Huberts, West Catholic and Conwell-Egan had been expecting a decision one week earlier, but the Archdiocese delayed the announcement after some anonymous donors said they would give $10 million to keep the four schools open.
The four schools were rescued from the closure list, after donors organized by developer Brian O’Neill stepped forward to fund an independent foundation to aid the schools. O’Neill says as the prospect of closing the high schools emerged, donors large and small pitched in.
“Each day one thing built on another. And it became clear that these weren’t just great traditional schools, but these were places where thousands of places were getting a break in life.”
Devon Fiore, a senior at Bonner-Prendergrast, stood with joyful tears in her eyes just moments after Archbishop Charles Chaput gave the word that Bonner-Prendie will remain open. She says the entire school gathered in Bonner’s auditorium, fearing the worst.
“Probably the greatest day in seven weeks for us,” said Fiore. “(There) were, cheers, crying, every emotion possible went through that auditorium,” said Fiore of the mood in the auditorium after the announcement.
“I don’t care what happens tomorrow. I don’t care what happens next year. As long as I am at West Catholic I am going to have the best life ever,” said Theresa Ta, West Catholic student .
There were hugs and tears on Friday after Archbishop Charles Chaput read the announcement that all four catholic high schools selected to be shut down this summer will remain open.
“When I found out this was closing I was in tears. Now that I found out it was staying open it was like a bomb being taken off my shoulders,” a Monsignor Bonner student said.
Father James Olson, President at Bonner spoke with KYW Newsradio.
“First I was just like, yes! We are so grateful for the opportunity because we’ll be able to go forward now for a long time.”
Olson says the school is immediately opening registration for next year- a win he says for Catholic education.
Listen To The Entire News Conference
Archbishop Charles Chaput says the foundation has a goal of raising $100 million over five years, and ultimately will help elementary schools as well. He says $12 million has been raised so far.
Presidents of all four high schools allowed their students to stay later than their scheduled dismissal time. The students gathered in their school auditoriums for the 3 p.m. announcement and broke out in cheers as they learned their schools had been saved.
To see where all the schools are in relation to each other, click the map below.