Immaculata Academy students react after hearing their school is set to close

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — When Immaculata Academy students left school Friday afternoon, all was normal.

“Everyone had to go home because there was meeting,” said Abby Widger, a senior at the high school.

Soon after, their parents received the news via email – the school would be closing at the end of the year.

“It just came as such a complete shock to me,” said Widger.

Friday night, she and Carolyn Ferris returned to school, wanting to be near something familiar after learning about the closure.

“We really are like a family because it’s so small,” said Widger. “We all know each other and we’re all going to miss each other.”

The letter sent to parents cites the school is closing because the sisters who run it – the Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph – are not capable of keeping up the duties. The letter says there are only 60 sister in the order now and their median age is 80 years old; in the order’s hayday, when Immaculata opened, there were over 500 nuns.

“We always a few nuns come to our school,” said Widger. They’re so cute and old and we would be excited to see them. Sister Jean [the school’s president] is a nun and we would go over to see them and say hi to all of them so we never really felt that was problem.”

The seniors say they never thought they would be the last class to graduate from Immaculata.

“I can’t believe the juniors, freshman and sophomores have to go somewhere else,” said Ferris.

The students say they’re hopeful they can leave a lasting legacy behind when Immaculata Academy’s doors close for good in June.

“It’s just going to be so sad to see,” said Widger, getting teary-eyed.  “Once a bear always a bear!”

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