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Published: Wednesday, 3/10/2010

St. Anthony School to close over dwindling enrollment

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

LAMBERTVILLE - The doors at St. Anthony School will close for the last time in June.

After back-to-back years of declining enrollment, the K-8 grade school got approval recently from Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron to close.

Archdiocese spokesman Joe Kohn said the closure was announced to parishioners in a letter in February from the Rev. Brian Hurley, pastor of St. Anthony Church.

The school, which according to the church Web site opened in 1944, began the school year with 34 students, less than half the enrollment of the 2008-2009 academic year.

Principal Frances Sweet secured a $50,000 subsidy from the Archdiocese of Detroit to keep the school afloat.

The grant was intended as a temporary fix while the parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Temperance, and St. Joseph Church in Erie explored forming a regional school to provide for the Catholic education of children in southern Monroe County.

"There was a committee put together to look at the viability of a regional school in the area. They came to the conclusion that there was not a viable option for that," Mr. Kohn said.

A press release from the archdiocese said the Catholic Schools Office will work with the parish to help find alternate sites for Catholic education of students.

Mike Strzelewicz, the father of three children who attend St. Anthony, said he was disappointed that the school is closing.

"It's just a shame what has happened. I honestly thought I would not have to make this decision. I really thought our little school was going to be there until our kids got through the eighth grade," he said.

Mr. Strzelewicz said he and his wife are considering sending their children to St. Mary Catholic Church in Monroe or nearby Jackman Road Elementary. The Temperance couple have a girl in the fifth grade and sons in the first and fourth grades.

Mr. Strzelewicz credited Mrs. Sweet for taking the initiative in getting the grant and keeping the school open this year.

"She is an angel sent from heaven. She really tried to make a difference. She made a big impact with what she had to work with. If she had came here a little earlier, it would have made a big difference," he said.



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