Archdiocese of Newark to close Immaculate Conception High School

Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair is on the chopping block and has just weeks to change its fate. (6/30/14)

MONTCLAIR - Monday was the last day of the school year, and could possibly be the very last for a North Jersey Catholic school.

Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair is on the chopping block and has just weeks to change its fate.

On its last day of the year, rising senior Akilah Love has a heavy heart. Her school not be open next year. "When I found out about what happened I was in tears," she says. "The school has been my guide. They have been in my corner all this time."

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Immaculate has been serving students from urban areas in Essex County since 1925, but the Archdiocese of Newark has decided to close the school due to financial problems.

Immaculate Conception has seen enrollment steadily declining for years.  Ten years ago, the school had more than 300 students.  This past year it had just 173. 

"We have a small enrollment, which is our problem," says Director of Development Celia Honohan. "But we don't see it as a problem because we're all family here at Immaculate."

The Archdiocese of Newark has given the school until July 15 to come up with a plan to grow enrollment and become financially stable. 

"We reached out to our student and parent community," says Honohan. "They have been tremendous."

So far, the school has raised half of its $500,000 goal.  But getting more students enrolled has been challenging.  

They hope to show prospective students and their parents what Immaculate could do for them.

Love says her education would have turned out differently had she gone to a public school in her native East Orange.

"Public schools do not have the same set of rules and regulations that a Catholic school has," Love says. "And it's potentially dangerous to send your kids to a public school."

She says she learned not just school lessons here, but also life lessons that she hopes future generations will receive here as well. 

Since 1999, the Archdiocese of Newark has closed 78 schools. There are a total of 98 still in operation.

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