Jan. 19, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
A Catholic high school in College Point will permanently close at the end of the 2021 school year due to financial difficulties that have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
St. Agnes Academic High School, an all-girls private Roman Catholic school that opened in 1908, made the announcement earlier this month.
School officials notified parents of the closure via a letter sent out on Jan. 13.
The decision will bring an end to the school’s long history. The school, located at 13-20 124th St., has served more than 10,000 students since its inception.
“The financial realities during the past several years have made it impossible to sustain the school,” wrote Sister Peggy McVetty in the letter to parents on behalf of the Sisters of Saint Dominic Leadership Council.
“The unprecedented economic projections and ramifications of the pandemic have only complicated the previously existing difficulties.”
McVetty wrote that the school has a plan in place to help students explore their best options for the future and will assist them in finding placement in other Catholic high schools.
St. Agnes will also create an accelerated academic program for juniors that will give them the option of graduating from the school this year.
A series of Zoom meetings are also being held by school administrators and members of the Sisters of St. Dominic Leadership Council to address the concerns of parents and students. The meetings began on Jan. 13 and will run through Jan. 19.
The school told the Queens Post that it has been struggling– like many Catholic schools–to attract a sustainable number of students over the past decade.
“St. Agnes is a very small school and our enrollment is not huge to begin with and most of our students are on some sort of financial aid,” Nancy Connors, Director of Advancement at St. Agnes Academic High School said.
“Many of our student’s families were hit hard losing jobs and other things during COVID and so the push for financial aid was tremendous.”
At the same time, Connors said, the Sisters of St. Dominic were contemplating their own futures as they begin to age and are in need of more care. Many are in their 80s and 90s and the order contributes a portion of its funds to the running of the school.
“The sisters felt that, in this time in history and complicated by COVID-19, now would be the time to close the school,” Connors said.
Connors said that the school building and its grounds are owned by the order but the future of the site is unclear. The Sisters of St. Dominic also own the adjacent convent, she said.
School principal Susan Nicoletti said that the spirit of St. Agnes will live on through the school’s alumni who found their voices at the school.
“Graduates will continue the proud legacy as teachers, attorneys, doctors, nurses, executives, community leaders, and all walks of life,” Nicoletti wrote in a Jan. 13 statement.
“St. Agnes students and alumni are a shining example of the importance of Catholic education.”