Financial pressures set to close Xavier Prep while movement tries to stop it

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 1:35 PM

WWLTV.com
Email: webteam@wwltv.com | Twitter: @WWLTV

NEW ORLEANS -- Xavier University Prep School, the Catholic all-girls high school that has educated young African-Americans Uptown since 1915, is planning to close at the end of this school year due to financial pressures, officials announced Wednesday.

A meeting was being held with parents Wednesday evening to announce the news, which was also posted on the school web site.

In a statement from Xavier Prep, officials said there would be communication with current students during the closure.

"We remain committed to the students and families of Xavier Prep and will work with the Archdiocese of New Orleans to help all students transition to new schools, if need be."

Xavier Prep officials also announced plans to hold a strategy session Saturday to explore options to keep the school open. It will be held at 10 a.m. at Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School, located at 1617 Caffin Ave.

Xavier Prep has educated generations of local African-American and minority students for 98 years.  It opened as a coeducational school but became an all-girls' school in 1970.

Located on Magazine Street, the school was founded by St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who also founded Xavier University.

Among the notable Xavier Prep alumni are Judge Edwin Lombard, former New Orleans first ladies Sybil Morial and Mickey Barthelemy, as well as singer Wanda Rouzan, who also taught at the school.

The school is not owned or operated by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, but Archbishop Gregory Aymond -- who described the closure as sad and surprising -- said their offers of financial resources to the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament were declined.

Aymond and superintendent Dr. Jan Lancaster said the Office of Catholic Schools will work "diligently" to help the students affected find a new school.

In October, students from Xavier Prep, St. Mary's Academy and St. Augustine held a special Mass to celebrate their history, contributions and success in the community.

After Hurricane Katrina, the three schools became the MAX School for a short period of time.

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