Saying Goodbye to St. Lawrence Academy


Photo by: Sabrina Ilumin

After forty years of instilling a distinguished Catholic education into many generations of students, St. Lawrence Academy will close its doors at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 school year due to financial problems.

There is no easy way to come to terms with this distressing news. A fellow Catholic high school has fallen, leaving everyone admittedly shocked. While a small school, St. Lawrence Academy has been able to touch the lives of a large number of people including members of the Presentation community.

Perhaps it was one of the high schools you shadowed, or even applied to as a young eighth grader. Maybe you or a friend are an alum of the neighboring Elementary and Middle School. You might even know a current student, alum, or possibly a staff member of the St. Lawrence Academy itself. Regardless of your connection, there is no denying that this school has had a huge impact on not just its community, but on the communities of all the schools in the Diocese.

St. Lawrence Academy was a high school unlike any other mostly due to its intentionally small school size which helped foster a close-knit sense of community within its students and alums. MaryLynne Rodriguez, a college counselor here at Presentation and an alumna of St. Lawrence Academy says, “The smaller environment really brought students out of their shell…it was that place where kids could really grow into their own without the pressure of competitiveness.”  

It’s obvious that the community is left disgruntled by the outrageous and abrupt news. Rodriguez says, “It’s disappointing that it’s closing because I think there was still a lot of promise there.”

Many students, some of whom have been a part of St. Lawrence since Pre-K, are now left to scramble through the transfer process leaving many contemplating their future education paths. However, despite the uncertainty, there is still no denying that the friendships and the experiences made at St. Lawrence Academy will always resonate within each of its students.  

Audrey Portugal, a current junior at St. Lawrence Academy says, “I would like to be able to graduate in a Catholic high school but it’s all in God’s plan if He had planned for me to go to a Catholic high school or public school it’s all in His hands. But SLA is my second home and will always be my second home no matter what.”

Approximately 220 students (the entire freshmen, sophomore and junior classes) are being displaced due to the school’s sudden closure. As a result, many of the high schools in the Diocese have been asked to give some leniency regarding application deadlines for current St. Lawrence students. The school itself is also taking many measures to ensure that each of their students will find the school that is most suitable for them.

Dina Cannizzaro, Admission Director at Presentation High School, says, “We have been in touch with the principal, they’re meeting with each of their families to help them in their relocation for schools. So as they have their meeting with their principal, their principal will suggest which school is a good fit for them.” From then on, the referred high school deals with  the application and admission process in their own way.

Presentation especially has taken many actions to best accommodate the students in need. The first action is extending the freshman application deadline for current St. Lawrence eighth graders who did not apply by January 13 to the end of February. As for transfer students, the March deadline still remains the same.   

Presentation is also allowing shadowing for both eighth graders and Academy students. Cannizzaro says, “The shadow program is almost over, but we are going to continue it for St. Lawrence kids, because we want to make sure they don’t just choose Pres having never had any experience with it.”

When asked whether or not there were spots available at Presentation for the displaced Academy kids, Cannizzaro says, “We will try very much to accommodate those student first before other students…if they are qualified and they want Pres, then we will make it happen. We will make space for them.”

However, the sad truth is, many students may not get into their high school of choice. Nevertheless, we wish all St. Lawrence students luck in their future endeavours. St. Lawrence Academy was a very influential high school and its presence will forever be missed. Our support and prayers go out to all of the families, faculty, and students affected.