BURBANK — St. Laurence High School, an all-boys Catholic school in suburban Burbank, is going coed.
"After a close review of our strategic plan and in consideration of factors related to the closing of Queen of Peace, the St. Laurence Board of Directors, with support from the members, voted today to extend our philosophy to young women," the letter posted on the school's website Tuesday states.
The school at 5556 W. 77th St. will invite all current Queen of Peace students to enroll at St. Laurence next year. But current students at both schools will remain in single-gender classrooms, and girls who took the Queen of Peace entrance exam in January will not be enrolled next year.
Instead, the school will begin recruiting both male and female students for the Class of 2022, the letter said.
"There are many decisions we need to make to ensure the successful implementation of this plan. Our initial strategy will focus on keeping students in single-gender classrooms as freshmen and sophomores, allowing us to retain elements of single-gender education during students’ early years at St. Laurence," the letter said.
A committee will soon be formed to help refine the plan moving forward and a pair of town hall meetings are scheduled at St. Laurence to further discuss the changes. The first such meeting will take place from 6-7 p.m. Thursday for boys and their parents.
The second town hall will be from 6-7 p.m. Friday for Queen of Peace students and their parents, according to the letter from St. Laurence's chairman George Ruebenson and President Joseph Martinez.
"To truly be boundless, our education must be accessible to everybody — regardless of background, ethnicity, financial situation or gender," the letter said.
A survey emailed Feb. 3 to alumni asked for their thoughts about possibly becoming a coed school. The email followed an announcement from the neighboring all-girls Catholic high school that it planned to close at the end of the school year.
The leadership team and school name will remain the same. St. Laurence also said it will not inherit any debt as part of the decision.
The letter states that the Queen of Peace closure accelerated the consideration of going coed. But, the school had planned to examine this as an option as part of its long-term strategic plan.
"The trends of Catholic education in Chicago cannot be ignored. Fewer and fewer students are going to single-sex high schools. Testing numbers have been on the decline at single-sex schools over the last decade, while coeducational high schools have seen an increase in test takers and historically experience far less volatility in enrollment," the letter said.