Xavier Prep alumni emotional over planned closure

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 6:22 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

NEW ORLEANS -- From its co-ed start in 1915, to becoming an all-girls school in 1970, Xavier Preparatory School has called New Orleans home.

Yet, no matter their gender or graduation year, alumni are emotional over the news the school on Magazine Street will close at the end of the school year.

"My father graduated from here, my mother graduated from here, my aunts and uncles, and then I came to continue -- and now I have a daughter that wants to come here, but she may not have the opportunity to even come," said Crystal Guillemet-Williams of the class of 1992.

"Prep is history," said 2003 Xavier Prep graduate Essence Thomas. "It's not just for the African American community, but for everyone."

The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, which owns the school issued a brief statement about the closure.

"The Sisters deeply regret that their decision could not be different, but due to the realities of their congregation's limited resources and those of the prep, no other decision was possible," said Sister Patricia Suchalski, S.B.S. president.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans said it offered financial assistance to the Sisters, but they declined the offer.

"It shouldn't even be about the money," said Aisha Bass of the Class of 1994. "It should be about continuing to educate our young girls to go on to be productive women in our society."

Alumni plan to meet on Saturday morning to organize an effort to save the school, which currently has nearly 250 students. The Archdiocese said it plans to help those students find other schools where they can enroll.

For some, though, the school's closure will leave a deep void to fill.

"Xavier Prep is where girls like us, who come from the projects and rundown places, can come and be a family without being judged," said Wilnel Paschall, who graduated just last year.

The Xavier Alumni plan to meet this Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School on Caffin Avenue in the Lower Ninth Ward. In addition to the meeting on Saturday, they are also using Facebook and Twitter, to try and galvanize as many supporters as possible.

 

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