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.”

4 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

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