Today was the last full day for students and staff at Villa Maria Elementary. The school is closing after more than 120 years under the direction of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Raychel Vendetti spoke with teachers and students on this emotional day. The Villa Maria Elementary family was notified in the fall of the decision to close the school by the Sister's of Saint Joseph. At first, the announcement was hard to swallow, but the reality has set in. During the last school-wide assembly this afternoon, several students were recognized for their accomplishments and participation.
This marks the end of an era for the Sisters. When Villa closes its doors, it will mean hundreds of families have to find a new school for the upcoming school year. The Sisters made that announcement last October, after considering many factors, including the Erie Diocese's establishment of the Erie Catholic School System.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph leadership said they no longer needed to compete with the diocese and that they had fulfilled their mission in the establishment of the school back in 1892. The shock has had time to wear off and teachers today say the last day of school comes with mixed emotions.
Chivani Suri, teacher, says, "I am so honored to be a part of this legacy of VME and the SSJ, but I am also very sad. I am sad to leave these families, but I know that all of the faith and all of the wisdom they learned here at VME, they will carry on for the rest of their life."
Sister Carol Morehouse, Chair of the Board of Trustees, says they have worked very hard over the past few months to make a smooth transition. "I think we have in the end exemplified the whole carism of the Sisters in Unity and we have been able to bring it together. There was a bit of a gap there but I think we have built the bridges, not that we all have crossed them, but its a work in progress."
As for the VME Campus, it was put up for sale over a year ago, but currently the Sisters have no plans on the table to sell the building. They are putting all of their resources into wrapping up the school year and making the transition.