BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Students at Holy Angels Academy chanted "Save our school!" Tuesday night after learning the Board of Trustees is shutting the school down for good.
The news was sudden and came as a shock to parents and the community. To the 240 girls who go there, Holy Angels Academy in North Buffalo is far more than a school.
Freshman Hanni Htat said, "This was my second home. I mean, this was family. We have the best teachers, to me, and the best girls. I just don't get it."
Faced with declining enrollment, Holy Angels' Board of Trustees has decided to close the school, effective June 30. Fewer-than-expected Chinese girls have signed up for Holy Angels' International Program next year.
Trustee Maureen Maguire said, "And the other thing that factored in was, over the last few years, some of the parochial 'feeder schools' - those are schools who send a lot of girls here - have closed."
Students learned the news in an assembly Tuesday afternoon.
Junior class president Erin McCormick said, "We were all in complete shock. There was nothing but grief anywhere in the entire gym."
Senior Katelyn Dennee added, "Just hearing the words, that it was closing, it was just... It was just like such a huge hit."
"Especially seeing the teachers cry was probably one of the worst feelings. It's like seeing your mom cry. It was that bad," added student Emily Shapiro.
Hours later, the tears were still flowing, as the girls gathered on Holy Angels' lawn, chanting, "Save our school!"
McCormick said, "There's no way Holy Angels is closing. I will - myself and my fellow schoolmates will make sure that this place is open. I am graduating from Holy Angels Academy and nowhere else. No other school can offer me what Holy Angels gives me."
Htat added, "It's just the kindness... just amazed me. This place, just... please, save our school."
Trustee Maguire says it would take an angel - a benefactor with "significant" money - to keep Holy Angels open.
"We want to help them get situated in the best school for them. So we're going to be meeting with all of them this week, class by class, to talk to the parents about options for their daughter. And we're talking with all of the Catholic schools to see who can accept our students, who will take them in and embrace them and give them a new home," Maguire said.
Bishop Richard Malone released this statement following the announcement: "Since 1861, the Grey Nuns have been dedicated to educating generations of young women in Buffalo to meet their potential: spiritually, intellectually and physically. We are all saddened to hear of the decision of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart and the Board of Trustees of Holy Angels Academy, and Holy Angels Prep to close the school at the end of this school year."
The Holy Angels' Gala, which helps pay for this year's scholarships, will still be held this Saturday at the school. Money raised by the gala this year will also help pay back the Grey Nuns, who used money from their retirement funds to keep the school afloat.
Students and parents have started a Twitter campaign to save the school from closing by using: #SaveHAA
In addition, students are asking the public to attend a fundraiser this Monday at Fat Bobs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The fundraiser would raise money for the nuns, who they say have donated their own money to help save the school.
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