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St. Cornelius, Set To Be Closed By Archdiocese, Named Blue Ribbon School

By Heather Cherone | September 29, 2015 2:55pm
 St. Cornelius, 5252 N. Long Ave., is an
St. Cornelius, 5252 N. Long Ave., is an "exemplary high performing school," federal officials said Tuesday.
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Matthew Bates

JEFFERSON PARK — St. Cornelius School — one of four Catholic schools on the Far Northwest Side set to be closed at the end of the school year — was honored as one of the nation’s best Tuesday and named a National Blue Ribbon school by the U.S. Department of Education.

St. Cornelius, 5252 N. Long Ave., is an "exemplary high-performing school" that represents "excellence—in vision, in implementation, and in results," the Education Department said.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said other schools should use St. Cornelius as an example of what works.

Heather Cherone says it's bittersweet for the staff:

St. Cornelius Principal Kristina Reyes announced the honor at an all-school assembly.

"Everyone was excited and cheering," Reyes said. "It is a well-deserved honor."

Students at St. Cornelius School, one of two Chicago schools that Tuesday won the National Blue Ribbon award. [St. Cornelius/Matthew Bates]

However, St. Cornelius is set to close at the end of the school year as part of a plan by the Archdiocese of Chicago to merge the schools of four churches in Jefferson Park, Portage Park and Gladstone Park as part of a "regional" approach to Catholic education in Chicago.

Reyes said it was "difficult" knowing that an academically excellent school like St. Cornelius would close in June.

"We will build on St. Cornelius' excellence as part of the new regional school," Reyes said.

Officials with the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office of Catholic Schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DNAinfo Chicago.

St. Cornelius, Our Lady of Victory, St. Pascal and St. Tarcissus schools will be consolidated into one school — with two campuses — over the next year, with the new school opening in fall 2016-17, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

St. Cornelius and Our Lady of Victory will close their doors for good in June, with the tentatively named Northwest Catholic Academy having two first- through eighth-grade campuses at what is now St. Pascal and St. Tarcissus.

Archbishop Blase Cupich has said the merger is needed to preserve Catholic education in an era of declining enrollment and massive budget deficits.

LaSalle Language Academy in Old Town was the other Chicago school to be named a Blue Ribbon School. Across the country, 335 schools were honored.

In 2014, no Chicago Catholic school was named a Blue Ribbon school. In 2013, St. Andrew in Roscoe Village, Queen of Angels in Lincoln Square, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy in Lakeview and Northside Catholic Academy in Rogers Park were named Blue Ribbon schools.

Since 1982, the honor has been awarded to schools that achieve overall academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, according to the award's website.

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