A nearly 100-year-old New Orleans institution to close

One of the most acclaimed preparatory Catholic girls school will close its doors at the end of the 2012-13 academic year. Founded 98 years ago, Xavier University Preparatory School announced on February 20 that it will close its New Orleans campus because it "does not have a financially sustainable future."

According to a statement from the Pennsylvania-based order of Catholic nuns that founded the school,  "After much prayer and deliberation, it is with very heavy hearts that the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament have come to this decision." The announcement said "The board of directors, the school administration and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament worked tirelessly to meet the financial challenges facing the Prep, but after reviewing the financial projections for the 2013-14 school year, the Sisters concluded that the Prep does not have a financially sustainable future." The statement was signed by Sister Patricia Suchalski, president of the school.

The statement said that "no other decision was possible." The school says that it is "committed to the students and families of Xavier Prep and will work with the Archdiocese of New Orleans to help all students transition to new schools, if need be." No information was available as to the number of students to be displaced. Currently, there 25 faculty members.

Xavier Preparatory is not affiliated with Xavier University, an historically black institution of higher learning in New Orleans, nor it is part of the archdiocesan school system. However,  Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Superintendent of Catholic Schools Jan Daniel Lancaster had offered "financial resources to the Sisters, but the Sisters, while grateful, declined our offer."  The  Office of Catholic Schools "will work diligently with Xavier's administration and other Catholic high schools to offer Catholic education to these young women." Many of the students of Xavier Prep are drawn from New Orleans African-American community.

According to the school, more than 95 percent of its graduates in recent years went on to college or other post-secondary education and one third of the graduates were awarded academic scholarships. Xavier Prep has earned numerous awards and accolades for its academic achievements. Many of its alumni include prominent members of the New Orleans community, including wives of city mayors. Many of its students were members of families of limited resources.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Xavier Prep was not affected by the flood that damaged two Catholic schools: St.  Mary’s Academy and St. Augustine. The three were consolidated with Xavier Prep into one school that was opened in 2006.

Xavier Prep was founded by St. Katherine Drexel and was originally co-ed. It became an all-girls school in 1970s


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