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St. Mary of the Assumption High School, Elizabeth, N.j.

"Hail Mary" fundraising falls short, so New Jersey Catholic high school will close

Last-ditch attempt to raise $2 million and save St. Mary of the Assumption High School in Elizabeth was unsuccessful.

A last-ditch fundraising effort has fallen short, so a co-ed Catholic high school in Elizabeth, N.J., has closed after 89 years.

NJ.com reports that St. Mary of the Assumption High School permanently shut its doors Wednesday.

“It is a sad day for the St. Mary’s family," the school announced on its website. "The doors may be closed after 89 years, but the spirit of St. Mary’s will live on forever! We thank our families, teachers, staff, board members, coaches, alumni, and students for making St. Mary’s a special place. The memories we made will be cherished forever!”

The Archdiocese of Newark announced in June that it planned to shut down the high school, which had been struggling financially for years and was facing a $1.5 million deficit as enrollment dropped. But alumni, students and community members launched a $2 million “Save St. Mary’s” fundraising drive.

The campaign raised about $241,000 in a month, including a $100,000 pledge from Investors Foundation, the charitable arm of Investors Bank. But it wasn’t enough.

The fundraising push, called a “Hail Mary” by some supporters, included a homecoming event earlier this month with St. Mary’s graduates from the 1940s to the present. It also held an alumni basketball game that helped celebrate the school’s long sports history, which included several state championships in various sports.

The Archdiocese of Newark will try to find other schools for the 100 students who were planning to attend St. Mary’s in 2019-20.

Declining enrollment, as well as increased competition from public charter schools, have adversely affected St. Mary of the Assumption and other Catholic schools in New Jersey.

St. Joseph School in Mendham and Holy Innocents School in Neptune closed this summer.

Saint Brendan School also closed its Clifton location and merged with the Academy of St. James in Totowa. Two schools -- St. Aloysius in Jackson and St. Veronica in Howell -- are merging this summer to form Mother Seton Academy in Howell.

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