Northeast Times

The Bambies are back

St. Hubert High School holds a rally to re­mind the neigh­bor­hood that the Bam­bies are here to stay, months after they win the fight to keep their school open, Fri­day, Septem­ber 7, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

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St. Hubert High School fresh­man An­gela Mor­ris joined fel­low stu­dents on Fri­day morn­ing on the school’s front steps, singing the alma ma­ter and shout­ing cheers.

Eight months ago, few would have thought those steps would be filled with 600-plus teen­age girls in those fa­mil­i­ar St. Hubert brown and gold uni­forms.

Back in early Janu­ary, an Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia blue rib­bon com­mis­sion re­com­men­ded that St. Hubert and three oth­er high schools close be­cause of de­clin­ing en­roll­ment and a budget de­fi­cit.

The St. Hubert com­munity raised $1.3 mil­lion in sev­en weeks. That out­pour­ing of sup­port, com­bined with gen­er­ous dona­tions and pledges from Phil­adelphia-area phil­an­throp­ists, con­vinced Arch­bish­op Charles J. Chaput to keep all four schools open.

An­gela was an eighth-grader at St. Timothy Ele­ment­ary School dur­ing all that drama. St. Tim’s, in Lower May­fair, was deal­ing with its own ad­versity, as the com­mis­sion re­com­men­ded a mer­ger with Pope John Paul II in Brides­burg. Today, the former St. Tim’s is known as Blessed Trin­ity Re­gion­al Cath­ol­ic School.

An­gela and her class­mate Kay­la Mas­tran­gelo were plan­ning to at­tend Little Flower after the ori­gin­al an­nounce­ment. Fol­low­ing Chaput’s an­nounce­ment, they were able to en­roll at their first choice — St. Hubert — and are look­ing for­ward to be­ing Bam­bies for four years.

“Every­one says they love it here,” An­gela said.

Fresh­men re­por­ted on Sept. 5, with up­per­class­men com­ing the fol­low­ing day. Every­body was to­geth­er on Fri­day for a liturgy.

Prin­cip­al Gina Craig and new pres­id­ent Frank Far­rell greeted each of the fresh­men as they walked up the steps in­to the build­ing for the first time in their uni­forms.

Craig and Far­rell will con­tin­ue that tra­di­tion, and will also shake the hand of each seni­or as she walks down the steps for the fi­nal time.

The school ad­min­is­trat­ors ex­pect the girls to ma­ture a lot in those four years.

Fresh­man Colleen Kelly was plan­ning to go to Little Flower but is now able to fol­low her aunts and grand­moth­er to St. Hubert. She is a gradu­ate of Our Lady of Con­sol­a­tion, which closed in June. She’s look­ing for­ward to ex­tra­cur­ricular activ­it­ies such as cross coun­try, vol­ley­ball and cheer­lead­ing.

An­oth­er ninth-grader, Leanne Hunter, comes to St. Hubert from St. Jos­aphat Ukrain­i­an Cath­ol­ic School, a non-arch­diocese school in Ta­cony that closed in June be­cause of low en­roll­ment.

Leanne was headed to Arch­bish­op Ry­an dur­ing the un­cer­tainty of St. Hubert’s fu­ture, but she is look­ing for­ward to her years at the all-girls school at Tor­res­dale and Cottman av­en­ues.

“You get a good edu­ca­tion at St. Hubert’s,” she said.

Alumni and oth­er friends of St. Hubert offered their best wishes to the girls on Fri­day. The girls waved pom-poms and held signs and a ban­ner that read, “There’s No Place Like Home.”

Kath­ryn Ott Lov­ell, St. Hubert Class of 1992 grad and chair­wo­man of the school’s ad­vis­ory board, ex­plained that there is no time to re­lax. The board raises money year round.

“We’ll nev­er for­get Janu­ary 6th,” Lov­ell said of the day the com­mis­sion re­com­men­ded that St. Hubert close. “We have to be vi­gil­ant. We have to act like we’re sav­ing the school. We’re in ‘save school mode.’ ”

Far­rell ex­plained that cur­rent en­roll­ment is 663. He was beam­ing on Fri­day as the fresh­men met the up­per­class­men for the first time.

“It’s been great to get all the girls to­geth­er,” he said.

Craig was in tears when the com­mis­sion made its re­com­mend­a­tion, but she is con­fid­ent St. Hubert has a long and bright fu­ture.

“This is a cel­eb­ra­tion that we’re here,” she said. ••

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You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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