Holy Name School students helped celebrate the schools 100 anniversary during the Labor Day festivities. Principal Christine Reynolds announced March 21 that the school would be closing when classes ended in June.
Holy Name School Principal Christine Reynolds said her elementary students were sad when they came to school Friday, March 22 officially knowing they would be the last ones in the school’s 100-year history.
“They were a little sad this morning knowing that their school was going to close,” said Reynolds, who announced during a March 21 school meeting that the private Catholic institution would be closing its doors in June.
“The children are going to be resilient,” Reynolds added. “They will be fine, and we will help to make sure that they are fine.”
Reynolds said that all of the 56 students currently enrolled in pre-K through grade 6 at Holy Name School are from the communities of Au Sable Forks and Keeseville.
“All of their sports programs and several other activities come through this community,” Reynolds said. “All the kids in the community already know each other even if they are in different schools.”
In announcing the closure, Reynolds sent a pair of letters to parents, alumni and the community.
“When I first arrived, I was told that I may be principal for only one year,” she said in the letter. “I took the job with the hopes that together we would be able to keep this little school going. We kept the school going for three years!”
Reynolds said that the decision was made after “much thought, number crunching and prayer.”
With the closure, Reynolds said she is working to help students who will be transitioning into the AuSable Valley School District.
“In May we have a Fun on Wheels bicycle safety event that we are hoping to go over to Au Sable Forks Elementary to do the helmet fittings,” she said. “In June I am hoping to get together with (AFES principal) Ginene Mason so our students will have a chance to go over and see the classrooms and meet with the teachers and students they will be with next year.”
In the letter, Reynolds stated that economic hardship, overall decrease in the student census in the AuSable Valley district and the decline in the number of participating Catholics had led to a decrease in enrollment and funding.
“Low enrollment has required us to borrow money from the Diocese to meet expenses this year and has resulted in an extreme financial burden to our parish families,” the letter stated.
“The biggest problem is that our school is too small to continue,” Reynolds said.
With the transition, AVCS Superintendent Paul Savage said that the district will work with Holy Name to help with any needed transition.
“We will continue to assess over the next few months and will continue to work with our Elementary Principal and the Holy Name staff and families to help make this as seamless as a transition as possible,” Savage said.
He also said that he felt the transition could be done with minimal budget impact.
“We do feel confident that we have the capabilities, including physical structure, of accommodating what would be an average of about three-to-four students per class at AFES,” Savage said. “Obviously, with an addition of around 30 students there will be some type of impact to our budget numbers, class sizes and potential need for additional services, but we are confident that we will have what is needed in our budget to accommodate this transition.”
Reynolds said that as the school year closes, there will be a chance for alumni to gather April 20 at the annual Blue and Gold Dinner Dance.
“There will be yearbooks form throughout the years and pictures that go way back that people will be able to look back on,” Reynolds said.
She added that the dance, along with the annual auction in May, are fundraisers that will help the school cover the costs that still need to be paid for in 2012-13.