St. Louis legacy celebration a bittersweet reminiscence of the school’s rich history

Aaron Lambert

Teachers, students, alumni and friends of St. Louis Catholic School in Englewood gathered on May 1 for a special legacy celebration retracing the school’s rich history. Due to decreasing enrollment and increasing financial constraints, Archbishop Aquila and the Office of Catholic Schools announced the decision to close St. Louis school late last year. The legacy celebration served as a bittersweet reminder of the role St. Louis has played in the local Catholic community, and was filled with great memories for people who have been involved with the school in some way since they opened their doors in 1929. Nicole Dawn Photography was there to capture the celebration.

 

Englewood, CO MAY 1, 2016: St. Louis Catholic School held a closing reception on Sunday, May 1st. (Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography/ Denver Catholic)

St. Louis Catholic School in Englewood held a legacy celebration on Sunday, May 1. (Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography/ Denver Catholic)

Englewood, CO MAY 1, 2016: Michael Carroll, St. Louis basketball coach 1959-1964, looks at a photo of his basketball team in 1961. Michael attended the St. Louis Catholic School closing reception on Sunday, May 1. (Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography/ Denver Catholic)

Michael Carroll, St. Louis basketball coach from 1959-1964, looks at a photo of his basketball team in 1961. (Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography/ Denver Catholic)

 

Englewood, CO MAY 1, 2016: Michael Carroll, St. Louis basketball coach 1959-1964, looks at a photo of his basketball team in 1961. Michael attended the St. Louis Catholic School closing reception on Sunday, May 1. (Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography/ Denver Catholic)

Carroll laughed as he reflected upon his favorite memories of the school. “There are too many great memories to choose from, but I do remember Monsignor [Bernard] Cullen, always coming down stairs telling us to be quiet, because our changing room was underneath the parish, and they could hear us during Mass or confession,” he said.  (Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography/ Denver Catholic)

 

 

Englewood, CO MAY 1, 2016: St. Louis Catholic School held a closing reception on Sunday, May 1st. (Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography/ Denver Catholic)

The legacy celebration drew people of all ages, from current students of St. Louis to alumni who had graduated many years earlier. (Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography/ Denver Catholic)

 

Englewood, CO MAY 1, 2016: St. Louis Catholic School held a closing reception on Sunday, May 1st. (Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography/ Denver Catholic)

It was bittersweet celebration that reflected upon the rich history of St. Louis as the school prepares to close its doors at the end of the school year. (Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography/ Denver Catholic)

COMING UP: St. Louis School in Englewood to close

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St. Louis School in Englewood to close

Archbishop Aquila: 'We can't forget the rich history of this school'

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At Masses this weekend Father Robert Reycraft, pastor of St. Louis Catholic Parish in Englewood, will announce the decision to close St. Louis School at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

Father Reycraft made the decision together with the Catholic Schools Office and Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila.

In a letter written to the parish and school communities, Archbishop Samuel Aquila stated that the decision was a difficult one, but that “after reviewing enrollment and demographic trends, parishes and schools that are nearby, your parish and school finances and other data to assess the viability of the school, I fully believe that this is the best decision for the parish.”

“It is with sadness that this will be the last school year for St. Louis School,” Father Reycraft stated. “I thank the parents who dedicated so much of themselves to our school. I thank Mrs. Hagen, Principal, who worked tirelessly over decades in devotion to the school. I thank the parishioners of St. Louis Parish who supported school activities and all of our many benefactors including the Archdiocese of Denver. I thank all of the teachers and support staff throughout the years.”

The pastor pointed to low enrollment mixed with rising costs as factors that “have brought us to a point where we cannot meet our obligations to continue.”

“St. Louis School has contributed much to the lives of students and their families since 1929,” he continued. “We are all grateful for that.”

St. Louis Catholic School has been impacted by several factors, not unlike hundreds of schools across the country that have had to close. The primary factors affecting the school’s lack of viability are changing demographics, which has led to shortfalls in enrollment and the resources necessary for sustainability.

“St. Louis Catholic School is a hidden gem,” said Principal Pattie Hagen, “but we have not been able to recruit significant enrollment. The small class sizes are a double edged sword in that the scholars receive differentiated instruction however financial it is not a viable reality to sustain.”

The last 15 years have been a time of declining enrollment for St. Louis. Enrollment has dropped to its lowest count with less than 80 students. Additionally, per-student costs have risen to over $11,000, requiring St. Louis Parish to substantially subsidize school operations, which is an unsustainable situation for the parish.

Despite every effort to build enrollment, including the diligent work of the School Advisory Council, make tuition affordable, and raise funds through the support of several generous donors, the recurring and on-going struggle to make the school viable has taken its toll.

“Father Reycraft, the parish, parents and our benefactors have donated much to help us continue our educational  mission but we can no longer ask for such a sacrifice from these parties,” said Hagen.

“St. Louis Catholic School has changed the lives of countless people in south central Denver since its founding in 1929, thanks in no small part to the sacrifice and hard work of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, as well as the laity that have staffed the school since 1973,” wrote Archbishop Aquila. “We can’t forget the rich history of this school, and the thousands of children who have passed through its doors.”

To read the letter Archbishop Aquila sent to St. Louis Parish, click here: http://archden.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Archbishop-Letter-St.-Louis-School.pdf

To read the FAQs sheet on St. Louis School, click here: http://archden.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/FAQs-St.-Louis-School.pdf