Future Dims for Mother Cabrini High School

Mother Cabrini High School at 701 Fort Washington Ave in Washington Heights (Photo by Beyond My Ken, Creative Commons license)

Mother Cabrini High School at 701 Fort Washington Ave. in Washington Heights (Photo by Beyond My Ken, Creative Commons license)

After 115 years of educating young women, Mother Cabrini High School in Upper Manhattan will be closing its doors at the end of the school year.  “Increased costs and diminishing revenue made it impossible to continue operations,” the Washington Heights-based institution said in an online statement published Jan. 14, 2014.

Full tuition is now nearly $1,100 per month, reported Robin Elisabeth Kilmer for the Manhattan Times. Kilmer took a look into Catholic institution’s future and how the announcement has affected alumni and students.

Schools like Cabrini have provided children of immigrant and working class families an affordable opportunity for a good education.

For families unable to afford more expensive prep schools, and who are skeptical of the city’s public schools, parochial schools have long been an option.

Many immigrant and working families have long turned to Catholic schools to give their children a quality education.

But it’s not enough to buck the trend of dropping enrollment at Catholic schools across the country.

Since 2003, attendance at Catholic schools has decreased by 22 percent, according to the National Catholic Education Association. Mother Cabrini High School is no exception to this trend.

In 2001, it had 455 students.

Enrollment has now decreased to 305 students.

Local residents who graduated from Cabrini or have children attending the school, shared some memorable experiences with the Manhattan Times.

Diurka Díaz (left) and daughter, Tatiana Bracht.

Diurka Díaz (left) and daughter, Tatiana Bracht.

One mother, Diruka Díaz, credits her English teacher at Cabrini, Mrs. Clancy, for helping her overcome her worries about English when she arrived in Washington Heights from the Dominican Republic at age 14. Her daughter, Tatiana Bracht, now has the same teacher. But for Díaz, it wasn’t just the teachers who made her experience at the school so meaningful, her fellow students were also there for her.

One of her favorite classes is physics, which she has come to enjoy with the help of her classmates.

“I really struggled a lot, and some other girls saw me crying in the hallway. They gave me their numbers and tutored me.”

Many of the school’s graduates concur, saying that attending the school helped them build positive relationships with other women.

“You focus more on school, and you learn to appreciate and create a bigger bond with the women around you. You saw women pushing each other to higher levels and empowering them,” said Yaritza Rivera, who graduated in 2002.

Such lasting impressions left by Cabrini are particularly evident in the many alumni and current students who have banded together to fight the decision to close the school. They have contacted local officials, started petitions, held fundraisers and reached out to famous names, including Lady Gaga – who attended an all-girls Catholic school – and even Pope Francis.

To read the full Manhattan Times report click here and for information about donating to “Save Mother Cabrini High School,” visit their fundraising page. A recent update by organizers states that a meeting on January 27 with Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has confirmed the closing of the school. The raised funds will go toward moving current Cabrini students to other parochial schools.

This is the new goal of the campaign: Help the 200+ current students of Mother Cabrini High School complete their education as they started it.

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