Northeast Times

Supporters of St. Hubert raise about $620,000

Sis­ter Mary E. Smith, prin­cip­al Re­gina Craig and ad­vis­ory board mem­ber Mar­ie Galla­gh­er pre­pared to form­ally ap­peal the arch­dioces­an de­cision to close the high school in June.

Start­Frag­ment

Stu­dents, alum­nae, friends and oth­er sup­port­ers of St. Hubert High School spent the last 12 days rais­ing money any way they could in an ef­fort to save the school from clos­ing.

Mean­while, the three-per­son team sched­uled to make a present­a­tion to an Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia com­mit­tee has been de­vel­op­ing talk­ing points to sway the pan­el and the Rev. Charles J. Chaput, arch­bish­op of Phil­adelphia.

The ap­peal hear­ing was sched­uled for Wed­nes­day, Jan. 25, the day after the Times went to press this week. Ex­pec­ted to rep­res­ent St. Hubert were Sis­ter Mary E. Smith, the school pres­id­ent; Re­gina Craig, the prin­cip­al; and Mar­ie Galla­gh­er, an ad­vis­ory board mem­ber.

Board chair­man Charlie Dougherty, a former con­gress­man, yiel­ded to Galla­gh­er, who was prin­cip­al of Little Flower High School in 1992 when the arch­diocese an­nounced plans to close the school. Galla­gh­er helped lead the suc­cess­ful ef­fort to keep the school open.

In their ef­forts to save St. Hubert, the three wo­men were ex­pec­ted to present a PNC Bank state­ment show­ing that school sup­port­ers raised about $700,000. They’ll have 50 minutes to make their case.

A blue-rib­bon com­mis­sion re­com­men­ded on Jan. 6 that the school, loc­ated for 70 years at Tor­res­dale and Cottman av­en­ues, close be­cause of de­clin­ing en­roll­ment and a $624,480 de­fi­cit in the last five years. A week later, the ad­vis­ory board held a news con­fer­ence on the school steps to form­ally an­nounce an ap­peal.

Since then, there have been count­less fund-raisers. School sup­port­ers had no oth­er choice.

That’s be­cause the arch­diocese com­mit­tee will point to en­roll­ment be­ing half of what it was 12 years ago. The 55-per­cent dip in en­roll­ment in the last 15 years is the largest of any arch­dioces­an high school.

Ca­pa­city of the build­ing is at less than 40 per­cent. En­roll­ment is ex­pec­ted to drop from 675 to 500 by 2014-15, based on the lower num­ber of stu­dents in feed­er ele­ment­ary schools.

The alum­nae as­so­ci­ation and the ad­vis­ory board set an ini­tial goal of rais­ing $1.2 mil­lion. The school an­nounced that the arch­diocese set that total as a pre­requis­ite to hold an ap­peal hear­ing. The arch­diocese said ap­peals would be heard from any school that asked, and that no amount of money had to be presen­ted at the hear­ing.

Non­ethe­less, the school wanted to raise as much money as pos­sible to elim­in­ate the de­fi­cit and provide tu­ition as­sist­ance.

More than $21,000 was raised on Jan. 19 dur­ing a vendor night in the school cafet­er­ia.

Guests bought school T-shirts, rib­bons, charms and bows, along with ho­agies from Mari­nucci’s Deli and pound cakes from Stock’s Bakery. A stu­dent donated her birth­day money, and a couple of young­sters emp­tied their Zip­loc bags con­tain­ing their life sav­ings.

Last week­end, there were be­ne­fits and alum­nae celebrity bar­tend­ing events at loc­al bars such as Mc­Noodle’s Ir­ish Pub, Paddy Whacks Ir­ish Sports Pub, Casper’s Place, Ham­mer­heads, Cur­ran’s Ir­ish Inn, Reale’s Sports Bar and Grille, and Smo­keEat­ers Pub.

“It’s been a co­lossal ef­fort,” said Louise Win­ski, a 1968 gradu­ate and  pres­id­ent of the alum­nae as­so­ci­ation. “All the busi­nesses and people have been fant­ast­ic. There’s no way that we can’t win this.”

Win­ski donated $10,000 at the out­set of the cam­paign, and a few people have matched that. At the Smo­keEat­ers event last Fri­day, Jim and Susan (Muller) An­der­son, who op­er­ate James J. An­der­son Con­struc­tion Inc. in Ta­cony, donated $20,000. Susan An­der­son was a class­mate of Win­ski’s.

State Rep. John Taylor re­cruited oth­ers to the fund-raiser. He has seen his two alma ma­ters, St. Hugh of Cluny and North Cath­ol­ic, close in re­cent years. His wife Evelyn is a 1974 St. Hubert gradu­ate.

In all, about $27,000 was raised. Oth­ers in at­tend­ance in­cluded former state House Speak­er John Perzel, Team­sters Loc­al 830 lead­er Dan Grace and St. Mat­thew sev­enth-grader Megan Vo­gler, who has been ral­ly­ing class­mates to pledge to at­tend St. Hubert at an on­line site, save­huberts.com.

In ad­di­tion, money was raised through sales of “Once a Bam­bie, Al­ways a Bam­bie!” sweat­shirts, an idea of seni­or Marissa Bo­logna. She ex­pects to donate $5,000 to the alum­nae as­so­ci­ation.

On Monday morn­ing, stu­dents held a “March for the Life of St. Hubert” around the peri­met­er of the cam­pus. Oth­er stu­dents boarded buses to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., for the an­nu­al March for Life in protest of the 39th an­niversary of the U.S. Su­preme Court de­cision leg­al­iz­ing abor­tion.

St. Hubert is one of five schools re­com­men­ded for clos­ing.

All-boys Monsignor Bon­ner and all-girls Arch­bish­op Pren­der­gast, loc­ated ad­ja­cent to each oth­er in Drexel Hill, Delaware County, are ap­peal­ing in hopes of be­ing merged. Con­well-Egan, a co-ed school in Fair­less Hills, Bucks County, is also mak­ing a long­shot ap­peal. West Cath­ol­ic is not ap­peal­ing.

Chaput will make the fi­nal de­cision by mid-Feb­ru­ary, and St. Hubert hopes it will be able to cel­eb­rate the tra­di­tion­al 100-day count­down to gradu­ation, rather than a 100-day count­down to clos­ing.

“Keep all your fin­gers crossed and your hands in pray­er,” Win­ski said. ••

End­Frag­ment

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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