Parents rescue Holy Name of Mary School

  • May 1, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Ontario’s only private Catholic school for girls in Grades 5 to 12 was going to be the latest casualty of the economic crisis.

But a group of parents has come up with a plan to keep the doors of Mississauga’s Holy Name of Mary College School open.

Parent Dan Giampuzzi said when the school announced in March that it was going to close due to low enrolment, he and three parents came together to try to save it. They proposed lower tuition rates, more funding for bursaries and financial assistance and a new Grade 5 and 6 class for parents who wanted to send their younger children to the school. And $300,000 was also raised.

Principal Margaret DeCourcy said the economic downturn had an impact upon the lower-than-anticipated enrolment numbers, along with the fact that the school just recently opened in September. There were 39 students enrolled. It hopes to have a total of 75 students next year.

After a meeting with the school’s board, the new tuition rate was lowered to $12,000 for one year instead of $14,000. Parents who have sons enrolled at St. Michael’s College School now have a 10-per-cent discount at the all-girls school. St. Michael’s College School is a partner of the Holy Name of Mary College School.

Holy Name of Mary had been a public Catholic all-girls school from 1972 to 2008. The school was originally founded by the Felician Sisters in 1964 as a private all-girls school.

Giampuzzi, who has three sons enrolled at St. Michael’s, said there are academic benefits to a single-gender education based upon Catholic values.

“We all share that kind of feeling about (the school) because we believe in it so much,” he said.

Girls have many opportunities to take a leadership role and don’t have to compete with boys at the schools, Giampuzzi added.

Mike Hudon was the first parent to enrol his daughter at the school. He plans to enrol his 10-year-old daughter there next year. Hudon said his 14-year-old daughter Kristin has gained confidence and is thriving because of the school’s well-balanced program. This includes volunteering with the Felician Sisters at their outreach centre.

Kristin said girls can be themselves because they’re “not trying to impress everybody.”

On April 25, the school held an open house attended by about 100 parents, including Sarah Zbogar. Zbogar, a 40-year-old mother of four, said the cost of private school education was one factor she is considering before enrolling her 10-year-old daughter at the school. But she added that she came to the event to explore this option because of her positive experiences as a teacher and student at the former public Catholic school.

“It would be a huge commitment,” she said.

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