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Queen of Peace High School To Close In June

By Howard Ludwig | January 25, 2017 8:33am | Updated on January 25, 2017 9:35am
 Queen of Peace High School in south suburban Burbank announced plans to close Wednesday. The all-girls Catholic high school has just 288 students this year, according to a letter from its president.
Queen of Peace High School in south suburban Burbank announced plans to close Wednesday. The all-girls Catholic high school has just 288 students this year, according to a letter from its president.
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BEVERLY — Queen of Peace High School, an all-girls Catholic school in south suburban Burbank, will close in June.

Administrators for the school at 7659 S. Linder Ave. announced the closure late Tuesday, pointing to declining enrollment and struggles with fundraising as biggest contributing factors in decision.

“This has been a most difficult and heart-breaking decision,” Queen of Peace president Anne O'Malley said.

News of the closure circulated quickly on the Far Southwest Side via social media Tuesday night. A letter sent to school families from O'Malley was posted online and other parents reported receiving a robocall from the school confirming the news.

"I realize this is a devastating decision for your daughter and for all our students who are the heart of Queen of Peace," O'Malley wrote in the letter. "They have worked hard, grown in every way and made lifelong friends. It will be difficult for everyone to say goodbye."

The letter goes on to point to "disappointing turnout" at a recent test for students interested in attending the school. As a result, it was determined that the school was no longer financially viable, O'Malley said.

Fundraisers aimed to keep the school afloat also failed to achieve the necessary $1 million annual goal for several years, according to the letter. The press release went on to state that the annual cost of educating a student at Queen of Peace is $15,500.

But tuition is capped at $10,500, and more than 60 percent of students require financial assistance throughout their four years to pay even that, according to the release.

More than 15,000 girls have attended Queen of Peace over the past 55 years, according to the school, which was founded by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters.

Enrollment of 1,400 students was commonplace when Queen of Peace opened in the 1960s. Ten years ago, 684 were enrolled, but the current student count is just 288, school officials said.

"The change will be hard, and while there is no perfect solution, we have been working to create a transition plan for each student," said O'Malley, adding that a pair of school fairs will be held to provide information about transferring.

Katie McCarthy of Morgan Park graduated from Queen of Peace in 1994. Her son, Jimmy, will attend neighboring St. Laurence High School, an all-boys Catholic school, next year.

"It is very sad that our daughters and future generations will not have an opportunity to attend Queen of Peace," McCarthy said. "This is the fourth all-girls Catholic high school to close in my time — first Lourdes, then Maria and Mount Assisi and now Queen of Peace."

She added that many parents and alums were blindsided by the decision as the school continued to advertise for new students online and with billboards as recently as this week.

"Mother McAuley is the only all-girls Catholic high school still open," she said.

But, O'Malley, a 1975 Queen of Peace graduate, said in her letter that the decision to close the school was not made lightly.

"We have analyzed the data from every direction and evaluated many potential scenarios. The simple truth is beyond this school year, we are not financially able to continue to provide the quality education and supportive environment your daughter deserves and you expect from Queen of Peace."