Students await appeal rulings

Izzy Goschinski, shown outside Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul, hopes to attend St. Hubert's.
Izzy Goschinski, shown outside Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul, hopes to attend St. Hubert's. (SHUMITA BASU / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: February 10, 2012

THESE DAYS, Isabella "Izzy" Goschinski has to muster all the energy she can to focus in her classes at St. Matthew School in Mayfair.

It's the only way the eighth-grader can block out thoughts about the future of St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls, the school she has long dreamed of attending.

James O'Connell, an eighth-grader at St. Laurence School, in Upper Darby, has a vision for himself for the next four years: walking through high school wearing a Monsignor Bonner uniform.

They'll soon find out whether their dreams will come true.

The Archdiocese is expected to unveil next week which of the 49 schools it announced last month would close, will remain open. Both St. Hubert's and Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast are on the list to close.

A source involved in the appeals process said the committee reviewing the appeals will recommend to Archbishop Charles Chaput that he overturn at least some of the earlier decisions.

Waiting for that news has been excruciating, especially for eighth-graders like Izzy and James.

Both St. Hubert and Bonner officials appealed their closings, making note of how much money they've raised since the Jan. 6 announcement ($784,000 for St. Hubert and $1.4 million for Bonner, according to school officials.)

Postings on Facebook yesterday suggested an anonymous donor would make a matching donation if Bonner-Prendie raised $2.5 million. A Bonner official did not deny that possibility but said the school was still in the early stages of exploring the parameters of the generous offer.

St. Hubert's board member Kathryn Ott Lovell says 165 freshmen are committed for the fall if the school remains open. That's more than double the recruits St. Hubert had last year at this time, she said.

A school official projects an incoming class of at least 250 for Bonner and Prendergast.

"The hardest part is not knowing. And once the decision is made and it doesn't go our way, where do you go?" wondered Bridget O'Connell, James' mother.

Both kids have been active in saving the schools they hope to attend: Izzy had a letter published in the Northeast Times and helped in the production of "Save St. Hubert's" videos posted on YouTube.

James has taken part in pep rallies and his family will dine wherever a vendor promises proceeds to Bonner. He's also donated $35 in birthday and Christmas presents he received to Bonner.

The announcement from the Archdiocese comes as registration and financial-aid deadlines are approaching. Izzy has two scholarship offers at Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls.

"It's a game of trying to figure out how far you can push it before you lose a spot at another school," said her mother, Nicole Goschinski.

James, who plays soccer, basketball and Irish football, has strong ties to Bonner. Big brother Sean is a freshman and James plays on one of Bonner's junior-varsity soccer teams. Bridget O'Connell graduated from Prendie, the all-girls school that now shares administrative services with Bonner.

"I wanted to go there since the fifth grade. I just feel that the tradition is the greatest at Bonner," James said.

Neither student wants to think of the options if the appeals are unsuccessful.

"My mom is still telling me it could close, you have to be open about it. But it's really hard for me," James said, adding that he'd attend Cardinal O'Hara High School if Bonner closes. "I can't imagine myself not being in a Bonner uniform."

Izzy said she'll "be happy" to attend Little Flower if she can't become a St. Hubert's "Bambie."

"I'm not ready to give up on it yet," she said.

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