Catholic school closing marks end of an era

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) – This month, five Catholic elementary schools in our area will shut down for good. Two of them are in south city.

It's a sad time for families who have sent their kids to these schools for multiple generations. For them, it's about more than a school closing its doors.

"We grew up in this house. It's all we knew. We just knew St. John's was right down the street, a block and a half," Dave Lake of the 1990 class of St. John the Baptist said.

It's a short walk down Adkins Avenue for his family. It's a church. A school. And for people like the Lakes, a second home.

There's been a Lake at St. John's since the 1930s. The school opened in 1914, but next week, it all ends.

The Lakes have made the walk from their home to St. John's thousands of times. And when they first started walking to school, it was alongside of thousands of other students. But now, the enrollment is just over 100.

What's happening on Adkins Avenue is happening all over the city. There were 30 Catholic elementary schools in St. Louis in 1990. Next fall, that number will be 15.

"It's a whole part of our lives that will be cut in half," Mary Lake of the class of 1971 said. "It's a whole part of our lives that's pretty much going to banish."

The doors will close for good next week. But many of the signs are etched in stone, and will never fade away. The Lakes believe what made this neighborhood strong will also stay.

Of the 15 Catholic schools that have shut down since 1990, nearly a third are now public charter schools. And now, some religious schools are staying open by becoming charter schools.

Pat McGonigle will explain how that works on Monday on Today in St. Louis.


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