St. Gregory the Great High School, Chicago's first co-ed Catholic high school, closing at end of school year

December 10, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Monday was an emotional day for students and staff at St. Gregory the Great High School, 1600-block of W. Bryn Mawr, on Chicago's Far North Side. The historic Roman Catholic high school will close its doors at the end of the school year.

St. Gregory was the co-ed high school for the archdiocese of Chicago. A number of issues contributed to the decision to close the school. What it comes down to is financial sustainability: there are simply not enough students enrolled to maintain a building as large as St. Gregory.

The school and the archdiocese are making every effort to offer remaining students an alternative for next year, but those ABC7 spoke to say it simply won't be the same.

"It's more of a family than a school," said senior Jason Hannan. "You get to know everyone so well."

Seventy-five years ago, Edgewater's St. Gregory the Great High School was the city's first co-ed Catholic high school. It is one of seven Catholic high schools owned by the archdiocese. But not even its history could keep it open. At the end of this school year St. Gregory will be no more.

"I've been here two years, and it really helped me achieve my goals of where I want to be in the future," said Patrick Vo. "It's a sad thought that it's closing."

"We are such a really big, diverse and positive community, that when we hear about this, it was the biggest blow," said senior Cindy Tsaoussis.

Known for its diversity and work with the immigrant community, the archdiocese has subsidized St. Gregory for years. But the costs are no longer sustainable. Enrollment has dropped dramatically.

Only 92 students registered this year.

"When we told the students, it was incredibly sad," said St. Gregory's Peter Dinges. "But they also decided among themselves what they want to do, so now for the remainder of the year, to leave a legacy, to establish themselves as a community, even if it's not in this building."

Dean of students Dinges is overseeing the transition of the 67 students who will need a place to go next year. Holy Trinity in West Town is being offered as a solution.

"We believe that's a great option, and it's a great way for the archdiocese to continue to support our students," Dinges said. "Our current student body, they've agreed that any student that goes there won't pay more there than they're paying here."

Those students who decide to try and transfer to Holy Trinity will have to go through the application process. For those that choose to go to another school, the archdiocese will offer them a $1,000 scholarship to help defer tuition costs.

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