Cardinal Dougherty High School is one of two Archdiocesan high schools to close at the end of the 2009-2010 school year.
In letters to parents posted on its Web site, the office of Catholic Education said it will be forced to close the schools at the end of this school year because of declining enrollment.
"No one ever wants to see a school close," Cardinal Justin Regali said during a press conference Thursday evening. "I understand the deep emotions that will be felt by the students, parents, faculty, staffs and proud alumni."
North Catholic, an all-boys school located in Juniata, experienced a 29-percent decline over the last ten years, according to the Archdiocese. The school -- which opened in 1926 -- at one time held 4,500 students. North, as it's called, has a large alumni base, which is sure to fight the decision. A rally to keep the school open was already held Thursday night.
"I think it's a disgrace," said an alumnus who attended the rally. "We need to keep the school going, we can't let it close," said a student.
Co-ed Cardinal Dougherty saw a 43-percent drop over the past ten years. Currently, 624 students attend the school, which had a peak enrollment of almost 6,000 in the 1960s. Opened in the Olney neighborhood in 1956, Dougherty is the largest Archdiocesan school in terms of physical size inside the city of Philadelphia. Future projections expect numbers to steadily decline by 34-percent over the next three years, officials said.
The schools will hold assemblies Friday to discuss the closures with the students. Students who attend North and Dougherty will be encouraged to attend one of the Archdiocese's other 18 high schools.
The last major closure within the Archdiocese came in 2004 when St. John Neumann High School for Boys and St. Maria Goretti High School for Girls in South Philly were merged. Neumann's property was sold and the new Ss. Neumann Goretti High School was formed on the former Goretti site.
More closures are expected next fall when a new, $65 million high school is opened in Royersford, Pa. Pope Saint John II High School will combine students from Kennedy-Kenrick High School and St. Pius X.