By Nicole Brewer
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With joyful songs and the bishop’s blessing, Saint James Regional Catholic School opened its doors on Wednesday morning, marking a new era for the Archdiocese.
“We were all sad when these schools closed, Saint Madeline-Saint Rose and Saint Gabriel School. But, to resurrect something so new and so exciting, that sadness subsides,” said Rev. Louis Bellopede, Governing Pastor.
The consolidation, which includes over four hundred students from two separate schools, was welcomed with excitement and anticipation.
It was a stark contrast to the tumultuous times last winter, when dozens of catholic schools had to appeal the Archdiocesan decision to close.
Saint James parent Maryann Specht said, “There was always that worry before. Are we going to get the news in June of a school closing? And I hope this will help.”
Governing Pastor Father Bellopede is confident it will.
“We don’t want to out price ourselves, because then we know our enrollment will go down. But if we try to stabilize our tuition, gather corporate sponsors and community… it will be success.”
In addition to a new school, St. James also got a new mascot, a bulldog that also represented the school’s namesake, Saint James Catholic High School, which closed its doors in 1993.
“My family is thrilled that we have another bulldog in the family,” said Debbie Van Horn. “Like I said, my father in law, husband, my brother…all are graduates of Saint James.”
“I think I’m more excited than our two boys! I graduated from the old Saint James,” said Jeffrey Small.
And he – like so many others – is hoping the new Saint James survives for years to come.