The school bell at St. Mary’s High School in Westfield will keep chiming.
The school announced two weeks ago that it will close at the end of the year, but a driving push from parents, students, and alumni has now helped keep the school stay open.
"We're here today to talk about a resurrection of sorts," said Fr. Frank Lawlor of St. Mary's Parish in Westfield.
In the days leading to Easter, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield announces a small miracle in the city of Westfield.
Saint Mary’s High School will stay open next school year.
"We are thrilled, students are thrilled, everyone is so excited," said parent Dawn Erickson.
The parochial school announced it would close after a difficult time making their bottom line.
"We have enrollment problems, we have financial problems, but the sleeping giant that is saint St. Mary’s was awakened over the past couple months. The spirit, the energy, has not been seen in a long time. Now, we will harness that energy into building the student body," Lawlor explained.
After Bishop Mitchell Rozanski agreed to meet with parish leadership last Saturday, the diocese has decided to offer a $300,000 grant to help keep the school running next year.
"St. Mary’s is really a community and a family than anything else. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve gone here," said parent Bob Wilcox.
However, with just 14 applications to the high school for the upcoming freshman year, they will need a plan.
The grant awarded to the school does come with a few stipulations and the focus remains on boosting enrollment.
"We will be reconstituting our our school board by bringing in some people from the outside who are experts at this thing," Lawlor added.
Western Mass News spoke with many from the school community who remain optimistic about the St. Mary’s future.
"We are St. Mary’s strong. We can pull through this," Erickson noted.
Now this is a one time grant and the school will certainly have some challenges, but the school community said that they are up for the task.
St. Mary's opened first as an elementary school in 1898 and had its first high school student enroll in 1903.
The pre-K and current elementary school will also remain open.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have the latest information as it becomes available.
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