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Cathedral academy parents fight to keep school open

New Orleans, La.- One of the last remaining schools in the French Quarter is shutting down and parents are angry.

The Cathedral Academy school has operated for more than 100 years but could close next year, unless parents succeed in convincing the archdiocese to have a change of heart.

It is one of the two remaining schools in the French Quarter, and it could be closed in a matter of months.

Parents are now rallying to save Cathedral Academy, which is scheduled to shut down, after operating on Dauphine Street for over 100 years.

For Rhonda Wheeler, the closure is painful for a number of reasons." This school became the first rock I could stand on as a mother, and it completely changed my life," she said.

And she tells us the Dominican sisters, have provided students, like her daughter Zoe, with a fine education.

The archdiocese says the school was targeted for closure because enrollment dipped below 200 students, but parents say it didn't have to be that way.

"If they had done those renovations our enrollment would be up," said Wheeler.

They say the archdiocese had $5 million from FEMA to make improvements at the school, but work was stopped three years ago making recruitment difficult.

The closure of Cathedral Academy is a personal one, not just for parents but for people who love the French Quarter and its unique character.

"It's what makes a neighborhood a neighborhood, and we're hopeful the archdiocese will reconsider," said Meg Lousteau with the Vieux Carre Property Owners Association.

Parents are now conducting a petition drive to try and save Cathedral Academy and they are determined to do whatever they can to maintain a teaching tradition for their children, and the quarter.

It doesn't appear there's much hope for Cathedral Academy, at least for now.

The archdiocese issued a statement saying the decision to close was a painful one, but that Cathedral did not meet criteria for adequate enrollment, physical condition or finances.

They say they will help with the transition of all students, and they say they will use available FEMA dollars to renovate the school, which could re-open at a later, unspecified date. The archdiocese says it's committed to maintaining a presence in the French Quarter.

The parents are unphased and will continue their petition drive in Jackson Square Saturday afternoon.

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