Education

Beloved Catholic high school to shut down next year

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, left, gives the Opening Mass celebrating the new school year at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame in Miami on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski, left, gives the Opening Mass celebrating the new school year at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame in Miami on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Miami Herald File/2012

Faced with a dwindling number of students, a historic Catholic institution in Miami will be shutting its doors at the end of the academic year and sending students to another school.

Archbishop Curley/Notre Dame High School in Little Haiti is closing in August 2017 and moving students 10 miles north to the Monsignor Edward Pace High School campus in Miami Gardens, the Archdiocese of Miami announced Monday.

Enrollment has been steadily declining at Curley for years, archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said. Only 229 students in grades 6 through 12 attend the school this year, compared with 272 in 2015.

“The decision was made so that the children can still experience and appreciate a Catholic education and at the same time be merged with a school which has an outstanding extracurricular program, over 70 clubs, sports teams, and facilities that will be able to maintain and handle the [extra] students,” Agosta said.

The archdiocese said the drop in enrollment does not represent a trend at Catholic schools in South Florida. Other institutions like Immaculata-La Salle High School in Coconut Grove and St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale are typically filled to capacity, Agosta said.

Current Curley high school students in good standing are guaranteed a spot at Monsignor Pace for the next school year and will have the option of taking a bus to the campus. The archdiocese is working to find spots for current sixth- and seventh-graders in nearby Catholic elementary schools, which include grades 6 through 8, like Holy Family, St. James, St. Lawrence and the Cathedral School of St. Mary.

The archdiocese also hopes to help teachers at Curley find new positions within the Catholic school system next year, Agosta said.

Faculty and students at both Curley and Monsignor Pace were told about the decision Monday morning.

“It is important to provide the students and families a timeline to ensure a smooth transition from being two separate schools, Archbishop Curly/Notre Dame and Monsignor Pace, to becoming one school community,” Kim Pryzbylski, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said in a statement. “Now there is an entire year to prepare for this transition and to insure that the educational process continues without interruption.”

Agosta said the archdiocese has not yet decided what to do with the Curley campus. Archbishop Curley and Notre Dame High Schools were founded in 1953 and merged into one school in 1981. Monsignor Pace has also been in Miami-Dade for decades. The school was founded in 1961 and its first students included children who escaped Cuba through Operation Pedro Pan in the early 1960s.

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