Rallies and prayer vigils will continue this weekend in an effort to save St. Mary's High School.
The Diocese of Springfield announced it would close at the end of the school year because of declining enrollment, and now parents are left scrambling to find a school for their child next year.
Parents and students held a fundraiser Thursday night, and the community will be out again on Saturday for a peaceful vigil.
At the Short Stop Bar and Grill, the 'Save Saint Mary's' cause raised more than $10,000. A group has also organized a GoFundMe page for the school.
Parents in Westfield said St. Mary's High School is more than just a school. It's a safe haven for their children, and a place where they feel like they belong. "We never anticipated raising that kind of money and tells you what the community is feeling. Means a lot to not just the parents but to the greater community in Westfield," said Carol Lucardi.
Brian Kelly has a son who is a junior at St. Mary's High School.
Kelly said he and many others were blindsided when they heard the news of the school closing. "St. Mary's has given us a family that we were looking for. Our son transferred in the 8th grade brought him over from, public school had some issues in the public school and he found his niche," said Kelly.
Kelly said since the announcement was made so late in the school year poses obstacles about where to send his son.
Most private schools in the area have already issued letters of acceptance.
"All these schools have their own criteria that public schools don't. How does he check off all those things if he does have to go to public schools," Kelly noted. Kelly has joined the fight in trying to stop the school from closing.
As the owner of Kelly's Home and Garden, he distributed "Save St. Mary's High School" lawn signs, asking for a suggested donation of $10.
In addition, Kelly will be attending a peaceful prayer vigil on Saturday that will start at 8:15 a.m. at the Westfield town green and the group will march to St. Mary's High School.
People in the community will be gathering right before Bishop Mitchell Rosanski of the Dioceses of Springfield meets with school board members as well as members of the parish committee and finance council.
Kelly said they've ordered more signs which should be getting them early as next week. Ultimately, it is up to the parish to close the school. If the school happens to close for good, the money that has been raised will end up going to the St. Mary's Elementary School. The next fundraiser will be an annual auction fundraiser on April 7 at St. Mary's High School at 7 p.m.
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