Will community help Holy Family?

Published 12:15 am Sunday, April 6, 2008

As you know, one of the most prized jewels in the most historic city in not only the state of Mississippi but the country is in danger of closing its doors.

Allow me this opportunity to explain. On Feb. 20, Bishop Joseph Latino said that due to increased costs, inadequate tuition and unmanageable debt, Holy Family School grades 1 through 4 would no longer exist. As parents and teachers, we’ve begun the fight to keep these grades.

A letter was drafted from our community to emphatically state our case to address these issues. In this letter, we as one governed body, make this rebuttal concerning the stated decrease in tuition.

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There is no decrease in enrollment. As a matter of fact, our enrollment has increased over the last two years from 138 to 158 students. We have 74 pre-k students, 27 kindergarten students, 15 first-grade students, 17 second-grade students, 17 third-grade students and eight fourth-grade students.

As for the unmanageable debt, I believe that we as concerned parents and as a caring community can eliminate this problem.

Dear citizens of Natchez, let us just cut to the chase. If this situation is one of finances, I in my Christian belief think our problems can be solved. But if money is not the issue, then let our community and the good people of Natchez know what we can do to keep the school operating.

In these times of economic recession and an increase in Catholic education, it is most difficult to accept this conclusion of closing the school doors. I personally feel the pain of my constituents. Not only is the increase necessary, it is worth every dime.

We at Holy Family School have produced some of this state’s brightest minds and it is not only our mission to keep this school open, it is our duty. Permit me to just give you an example

In 1890, three Franciscan Sisters had a vision in a small coal-heated church on Beaumont Street right here in Natchez, and the vision given was to teach the poor, black, newly- freed slaves in this community. With this pledge, this school was brought into existence to help those citizens gain a foothold in society where they were considered to be not teachable. To close Holy Family School would be a great dishonor to those founding sisters who gave their lives so that the poor could be educated.

Do not allow money to be the deciding factor in the closure of the oldest black Catholic School in the Lower Mississippi Valley. This town is one of pride and history.

In conclusion, I humbly appeal to all parents, local business people, banks and anyone that hears my call to a place of action. Let’s keep Holy Family School open.

As the Parents and Teachers Association is willing to fight to keep Holy Family open, my question is, are you?

Barney Schoby II is a supporter of Holy Family Catholic School.