While the school had long considered becoming co-ed, Brother Joseph Holthaus, president of East Elmhurst’s Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School, said it was economics that prompted the 55-year-old Catholic school to decide to admit girls for the first time.
“In general, it’s more and more difficult in this area for people to afford tuitions to non-public schools,” Holthaus said.
The currently all-male school, at 71-06 31st Ave. in East Elmhurst, was opened in 1956 by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Holthaus, in his second year as president of the school, said the Catholic order has made education and the formation of young people its mission since it began in France in 1821. Many of these schools are for boys only, but the order has been moving away from that model.
“We operate schools around the world,” Holthaus said.
The decision to become co-educational has long been debated within McClancy High School. Holthaus said that in 2001 the school hired a firm to come in and do a formal study of whether the institution was ready to go co-educational, but found it was not the right time. Eventually it was lower enrollment due to squeezed purses and a decision to move into the future which caused the school to decide to accept female students in the freshman class in the fall of 2012.
James Carey, principal of McClancy, said in a statement that women would be added with each freshman class, thus an additional grade would go co-educational each year until the school is fully co-educational in fall 2015.
“We are thrilled and excited that our future women graduates will join over 8,800 McClancy alumni into the 21st century,” Carey said.
Holthaus said the school is making strides to ensure the female students get equal resources in facilities and athletics as they join the school. He said women now make up 18 percent of the faculty and 80 percent of the staff has previously worked in a co-educational environment.
“I think we’re all excited about this move,” Holthaus said. “It’s going to be different, but the mission of the school, the philosophy of the school, remains the same.”
In addition to adding female students, the school has also completed more than $10 million in upgrades in recent years. It has modernized the classrooms with electronic interactive whiteboards known as Smart Boards, added a new media center, installed air conditioning and soundproofing in the facility, and upgraded the locker rooms, gym and athletic field.
The school also plans to open three new science labs this summer and an art studio next summer.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2011 Community News Group
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