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. ••EndFragment