Diocesan News

After 115 Years, St. Joseph HS to Close in 2020

The exterior St. Joseph H.S., Downtown Brooklyn, as seen in this 2009 photo. (Photo: Wikicommons)

Citing declining enrollment and higher expenses, St. Joseph H.S., Downtown Brooklyn, said it will shut down after the upcoming 2019-2020 academic year.

“As with many private, religious schools in the country, St. Joseph High School continues to face declining enrollment and increasing expenses to the point where projected operating costs far exceed all anticipated income,” a letter sent from the school to parents on May 28 stated.

“The Board of Trustees worked tirelessly with the Sisters of St. Joseph on a feasibility study to explore scenarios which would allow for continued operation of SJHS beyond the 2019-20 school year,” the letter co-signed by Sister Helen Kearney, C.S.J., president of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the order that runs the school, and by Loretta Lundberg of the board of trustees said.

“However, the painful reality is that long-term operation under the financial conditions would diminish our
ability to deliver the type of innovative, inclusive education we have always strive to provide,” the letter
stated.

St. Joseph, an all-girls school that opened in 1904, is the second Catholic high school in the Brooklyn
Diocese in the past month to announce its closing. Early in May, Bishop Kearney H.S., Bensonhurst, said
it will close on Aug. 31. Bishop Kearney is also administered by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The closing of St. Joseph’s represents the end of a long history for the school. It was started by the
Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood to serve daughters of immigrants and working-class families. It offered
a two-year commercial curriculum until 1930, when it became a four-year high school. In 1965, it adopted
its current college-prep curriculum.

The school has about 300 students and more than 7,000 alumna. It said it will help current students
transfer to another school.

Students React

Students were told of the news on May 28 by email, and they discussed the closing with teachers next
day.

“I was really shocked because I just came into St Joe’s; I made new friends, I loved all my teachers, and
it’s sad that I have to leave so quick. I just started, and it’s already closing,” freshman Uriah Denham said.
Junior Angelica Martinez noted how close students at the school are to each other and described how her
classmates feel.

“A lot of us have been talking about how we wish we could do something … to keep the school open. It’s
been pretty good here. I entered here thinking I wouldn’t get along with these girls, but we really all
bonded. We’re a very small class ratio, and the fact that a lot of us have to move away, and now that
everyone’s gone, it’s going to feel empty.”

“I really wanted to graduate with my class. I personally have never been to a public school before, so if I
do end up going to one, I wouldn’t really know how I would feel about it,” added freshman Bethany St.
Marie.

2019 has been a tough year for St. Joseph students, who lost Caroline Latham, the high school’s first lay principal, in February. For over a century, the school has helped prepare young women for college and for vocations.

“This school bettered me as a human being, as a young lady,” freshman Nylah Rogers said. “It made me
more humble, and it made me feel as if I were home. I can’t imagine going to a different school because
this is, like, my favorite.”

Nalani Fry Dicaprio said she was excited to graduate with her class, the class of 2022, and continue the
legacy because her mother graduated from St. Joseph’s.

“I was so excited for graduation and senior year. I will really miss my teachers, guidance counselors and
the whole St. Joe’s community.”

14 thoughts on “After 115 Years, St. Joseph HS to Close in 2020

  1. My sister Peggy went to St. Joseph’s years and years ago, and she has a number of friends who were her classmates back then.

  2. This is a very sad moment for all involved in and affected by this painful decision. The Sisters of St Joseph have always held SJHS in their efforts, hearts and prayers (pride, too).

  3. How very sad. I loved my years at St. Joseph ‘s. It offered a quality education at an affordable price for thse of us who did not qualify for the diocesan school. Class of 1964.

  4. I am saddened by this – I graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1963. It was a commercial girls high school back then. Had many friendships there and liked the nuns and priests also. If I were siper rich. zi would keep this wonderful school open. I gave many great memories

  5. As a 1972 graduate of St. Joseph High School, I am saddened to hear of the decision to close the school. St. Joseph’s was a magical time in my life. It was a comprehensive education and college preparation time. I graduated with a NY State Regent Diploma and my education prepared me for my entrance into The Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens School of Nursing of which I was a 1976 graduate. Unfortunately, that school also closed. It is a sad commentary that our cherished great schools have to close, especially when you see the lack of quality coming out of high schools today. When high school graduates can’t make change at a register or don’t know the locations of states, one has to stop and think about what so important in our country that we have to allow great educations to escape our kids. Goodbye St. Joseph’s. Your memory is forever burned in my mind, and I will love you forever.

  6. I am sad beyond words. I completed all four years and graduated in 1982. I have so many fond memories and I truly regret not being able to go to the class reunions. I want to thank all the beautiful nuns who provided the best quality education that you can’t find today, and to all of the girls that I attended classes with, thank you for making me feel like family. I hope and pray that there is some way that the school can remain open. Perhaps some generous donors will intervene before it’s too late.

  7. I attended 4 years at St Joseph and graduated with a Regents diploma in 1977. I am truly saddened to hear of the upcoming closing of my Alma Mater. I have so many fond memories of my years there. I think every young lady would benefit from such a focused vocational and academic environment. St Joseph taught young women to be self-assured and prepared for higher education and the business world . I pray that by some sheer miracle the school is kept open. If closed, where else will parents be able to send their daughters that has small student:teacher ratio and prepares for college with a 99% passing rate ?!
    Thank you Sisters of St Joseph for giving me the opportunity !

  8. I am so very very sad at the loss of this fine institution. I graduated with a Regents Diploma in 1967, and have always been so proud to be an alumna. Wishing the Sisters and all the teaching staff good luck in future and to the students who will be attending new schools a reminder to remember where you came from!

  9. I attended St. Joseph from 1967-1971……had the best time during those years. Made many friends that I am fortunate enough to still call my friends today! Thanks for the memories!

  10. So sad to hear this. I received first class quality education and graduated in 1976. My typing and stenography skills were superior at over 120 wpm. To this day, I still remember steno, when most people probably don’t even know what it is! I went on to run a nine-attorney law firm in the city for over 20 years until I quit my job in 2001 to pursue my passion for art.

  11. I have many wonderful memories of St. Joseph’s Commercial High School. My first year was in the annex back then in 1960. The next three years were spent in the main building. It wasn’t always easy but I did graduate with both a commercial and academic diploma.
    So sorry to hear it is closing.

  12. So, sorry to hear of the closing of Saint Joseph’s. It was a safe place. I had my first year in the annex and went on to an academic education. I am a teacher now because of Saint Joseph’s. Some girls had home lives that needed stability. We learned and were taught by a great staff. Saint Joe’s was that! There were friendships I still remember. ’71

  13. So sorry to Lear about the loss of this excellent school. Trust there will be direction for the students and educators.

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