Our Lady of the Ridge raising money to keep school open

CHICAGO RIDGE, Ill. (WLS) -- Families are coming together to stop a Catholic school in the southwest suburbs from closing.

Our Lady of the Ridge School in Chicago Ridge could close soon if the enrollment and finances don't turn around.

As the students leave Our Lady of the Ridge on Friday evening, there are questions about whether the school will remain open next year.

Three Catholic schools in the Chicago Archdiocese are closing at the end of this school year and two others, including this one, are fighting to stay open.

Every student, every family here has a story.

It's been a few years since Rob Pyznarski studied at Our Lady of the Ridge Catholic School, and he wasn't alone.

"Rob Pyznarski, Class of 1972," said Our Lady of the Ridge graduate Rob Pyznarski. "Started with Steve, my sister Karen, my brother Nick, me...the whole family went to the school. So we had 11 kids who went through Our Lady of the Ridge."

There were 11 Pyznarski kids who attended the school. There were other families here, too. Generation after generation of families have attended the school since 1954.

In all, 30 Pyznarski's attended Our Lady of the Ridge.

"It's a big part of our lives," said Rob Pyznarski, from the class of 1972.

"We all love each other...we're all like a big family," said student Natalie Parillo.

But this school, so alive with activity today, so focused on learning and helping others, may close.

"We have no doubt we're going to continue," said Our Lady of the Ridge parent Beth Parillo.

Yes, there's optimism that the school will stay open. Plus, there is so much history.

The Pyznarski's twins, Lauren and Bryan, attended the school, graduating in 2004. His wife, Debby, served on the school board.

"This is home...and the thought of that home going away. I can't imagine," said parent Debby Pyznarski.

To keep the school open Chicago's Archdiocese wants the school community to raise $236,000 by February 26th. They still need $23,000 to reach their goal.

"Our future is pretty solid at this point....we're real hopeful," said School Board President Marianne Gillfillan.

They are hopeful for the next generation.

"It means a lot to us to make sure that it continues on for my child," said 2004 graduate Lauren Pyznarski.

For the students who attend the school today and those in the future, like the Pyznarski's grandson, Colin, who the family hopes will be in the class of 2030.

Back in 1965, the Chicago Archdiocese had 524 schools. Today there are 217 schools.

Our Lady of the Ridge has held various fundraisers and another big one is scheduled for Sunday.

For more information about the Our Lady of the Ridge fundraiser visit: http://www.olor-school.org/save-olor-fundraiser

St. Alphonsus - St. Patrick School in Lemont, Illinois, won its fight to stay open next year, raising more than $530,000, according to that school's principal and pastors.
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