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Wakefield, MA – Our Lady of Nazareth Academy (OLN), a Catholic college preparatory high school for young women, faced with the reality of the current economic downturn will close at the end of the 2008-09 academic year, according to an announcement made by its governing congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (SCN), Kentucky.

SCN representative Sister Rose Howard, Director of Congregational Ministries, made the announcement yesterday to faculty, parents, and students, expressing deep regret at the closing. “We have been concerned for some time about the school’s financial health but recent events compelled us to take this difficult action this week. We are truly saddened to have to take this step.”

SCN’s decision was based on the school’s escalating financial challenges, including low enrollment and decreased tuition revenue, increased operating costs, and lack of sufficient capital to improve antiquated facilities. “Nazareth Academy’s 13-member local advisory board has worked tirelessly to improve the school’s financial picture, including recruiting a dynamic principal and stepping up student recruitment and marketing efforts,” said Howard. “So it is with heavy hearts that we have made the decision to close this ministry.”

“We know how devastating this news is for the young women who have been entrusted to our care and their families, as well as our 36-member faculty and staff, and thousands of alumnae and friends,” said OLN Board Chair and alumna Sheila M. Doherty. “Our priority right now is to develop a comprehensive transition plan for each student and make the next five months of the school year the best experience it can be for all involved.

“After 60 years of educating young women for lives of leadership and service, we are committed to bringing the school to rest with dignity and grace,” added Doherty. “There are thousands of women out there who have shared the common experience of Nazareth Academy and the school will continue to make an impact through these women.”

OLN leaders have begun reaching out to area schools enlisting their help and support. Special meetings are being held with students and parents by class to aid them in planning their transition.

“Today starts the healing process,” said Sister Joanne Forker, CSJ, OLN’s Principal. “We will commit the entire day to working closely with our students, through prayer, reflection, and discussion. There will be a grieving process to go through and our guidance counselors will support each student throughout.

“Ultimately, each student will be empowered to be part of her own plan for the future, working closely with parents, faculty, and counselor,” she added. Our hope is that we will get to a place where we can celebrate our connection and affiliation with Nazareth Academy and be thankful for the gifts that it has given many throughout the years.”

Located in Wakefield, MA, 10 miles northeast of Boston, OLN draws approximately 165 students from 30 cities and towns, from lower Merrimack Valley to Cape Ann. For more information, go to www.ourladyofnazarethacademy.org.

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