St. Bernardine, Forest Park's Only Catholic School, to Close

St. Bernardine plans to end the school year in early June after 98 years in operation.

St. Bernardine School, the only Catholic school in Forest Park, will be closing its doors in June after 98 years in service.

Declining enrollment and the amount of money needed to operate the school were cited as the reasons for closing their doors, principal Veronica Cash said Friday.

The school is located at 815 Elgin Ave.

The last day of school for first through seventh graders will be June 7. Eighth graders will graduate May 31.

Families learned about the closing Thursday night from officials with the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools as part of a parents' meeting.

"We're saddened by the news," said Cash, who has been the principal at St. Bernardine's since the summer. "A lot of our children have been here since they were 3 years old."

Cash said that the school was not operated by the parish, which will remain open, but by the Archidiocese. For the Archdiocese, St. Bernardine's was at its "fiscal cliff," Cash said.

A fair will be set up from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Jan. 22 at the school so that parents can learn about their education options for next year. The goal will be to keep kids in Catholic school.

Approximately 101 students are enrolled this year; 16 teachers and staff work there.

In the meantime, the school will still celebrate Catholic Schools Week, which begins Jan. 27 and celebrate what they have at St. Bernardine.

"People can come in and celebrate—or grieve," Cash said. "We're going to deal with feelings as they happen."

Efforts to speak with officials from the Archdiocesean Office of Catholic Schools were unsuccessful.

Find a New School:

If you're looking to stay in the Catholic school system and want to find a new school for your kids next year, check out this page for a map of area Catholic schools.

The link will connect you to the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools website. There are about five other Catholic grade schools located in Oak Park and River Forest that you can consider.

Readers, tell us comments what Catholic school you would recommend. You can even give them a review through our directory here.

Bill January 11, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Deb/Matt, thanks for the write up. A friend at work told me about your article. I was one of the parents in attendance last night with a daughter who has been a student for 6-7 years, another one to start, we are all saddened. The school/parish Twitter is http://www.twitter.com/stbernardine @StBernardine and Facebook is http://www.facebook.com/StBernardine. I am sure your support would very much be welcome to show the love we have as a community. Please let us hear from all your readers in Forest Park, Oak Park, Berwyn, Riverside, Maywood, Chicago, etc and our neighborhood(s). Students, alumni, parishioners, teachers, neighbors, parents, and maybe someone with deep pockets can make a MIRACLE happen.
Gary Marchlewicz January 12, 2013 at 04:26 AM
I attribute the great education and moral foundation instilled in me to help develop me into who I am today. The class sizes were always small but that's what I believe made us unique and successful. I had great memories there and am thankful to this day for all they did for me as a youth. I am saddened to hear of their closing. - Gary Marchlewicz - Class of 1990.
Katie January 13, 2013 at 06:00 AM
My sons both graduated from St. B's (2009 and 2012) and received an excellent education. Both are doing very well in high school. I loved the small classes and sense of community and caring. I am sad to hear they are closing.
Janet Barnstable January 13, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Certainly remember you Tahami, and I learned from you also - about words written in a language that didn't have vowels! I think that was one of the greatest things about teaching at St. B's - the International community brought a richness to the lives of students and teachers alike!
Tom Kelly January 13, 2013 at 04:21 PM
I can only echo what others have said above so eloquently. Very sad news indeed. Please keep us up to date on any events planned to commemorate the old place.


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