Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Parents, Students: We Want to Save Queen of Peace High

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Parents, Students: We Want to Save Queen of Peace High

Article excerpt

NORTH ARLINGTON - Through angry shouting and heartfelt pleas, about 300 parents and students of Queen of Peace High School voiced frustration with the sudden announcement of the school's closure at the Queen of Peace pastor.

Despite the community and alumni raising over $1 million in a little more than a month last year to stay open, the Archdiocese of Newark announced Monday that the 86-year-old Catholic high school will be closing its doors at the end of June. Archdiocese officials said the reason for the sudden closure was low projected enrollment and "financial shortfalls." Tuition is not covering the $3 million needed to cover expenses and this year's fundraising efforts have been underwhelming so far, and fundraising quotas assigned to parents and tuition collections had come up short, said the Rev. Michael Donovan, who also serves as the school president.

Tensions ran high at meeting that lasted for hours on Wednesday as Donovan tried to answer questions and listen to comments. At times the crowd descended into choruses of yelling.

Randy Pearce, a 1978 alumnus who is one of the leading alumni fundraisers, explained that Cardinal Joseph Tobin promised only one more year of financial support, and that his organization would commit to $500,000 in donations a year.

"We could spend the whole night screaming and yelling, but it is his [Fr. Donovan's] decision. I don't agree with it, but that's his decision," said Pearce.

Blindsided

Parents and students said they were shocked by the news, shared stories about what the school has meant to them and how being a Griffin instills a sense of family.

Principal John Toreno said he learned about the closure from a press release.

"I'm the principal and I didn't even know about it," said Toreno. "How disrespectful is that?"

Overcome with emotion speaking to juniors in their classroom, Toreno asked the teens who would now graduate elsewhere where they wanted to go next year. His call was met with a rousing cry of "Queen of Peace!"

"Our job as Catholics is to evangelize," said Toreno. …

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