After 90 years, a Catholic school in Kalihi prepares to close

( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Hawaii News Now )

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - When the school year ends in June, St. Anthony School in Kalihi will cease to exist, done in by enrollment and economics.

"'It's difficult. It's a difficult decision," Hawaii Catholic Schools Superintendent Michael Rockers said.

He said declining enrollment makes it impossible to keep St. Anthony's open.

"This school has gone up and down over the last ten, eleven years. Over the last four years they've lost about 25 percent of their students," he said.

This year the student body is down to only 75 kids. Parents love the family atmosphere and affordable tuition, but the parish can no longer afford the expense.

News of the school's end shocks and saddens Sarah Dacua. Her daughter's a fifth-grader.

"They taught our children moral values and to be God fearing," she said.

"This is our children's second home," Joan Flores added. "We don't want to leave the school."

Camille Sarmiento was a student at the school then returned to teach math.

"I don't think it totally hit me yet," she said. "Once it gets closer to the last day I know a lot of us are going to be crying about it.""

Rockers said his office and church staff brainstormed ideas to keep St. Anthony's going but the numbers didn't add up..

"We looked at fund-raising. We looked at cutting salaries. We looked at connections with other partnership groups. We really looked at every option we could. It just wasn't going to happen," he said.

Students don't know what to make of this being the last year for their school.

"It's sad because I have to go to a new school and meet new friends," third-grader Brayden Taasin said.

"All the teachers are so nice and friendly and it's sad to think that next year you won't be here," said 7th-grader Tyra Reyes.

Rockers said between now and the end of the school year, administrators will help faculty and students with the transition.

"Those people that have been part of this school, I think they'll take part of St. Anthony's with them," he said.

There are 18 Catholic schools in Hawaii supported by parishes. And come June, St. Anthony School in Kalihi will no longer be on that list.

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