St. Anthony Students, Teachers Seek New 'Home'

Closure of school still upsetting to many.

Some say time heals all wounds.

Perhaps not enough time has passed though for the students, teachers and parents still hurting over the closure of in

"It was a family and, as a family, we didn't have a chance to say goodbye," Karen Bogert, a first grade teacher at the school for six years, said about the school's closure announcement on June 22.

Bogert was one of 10 full-time teachers who found out they would have to look for a new job and a new school to call "home" by telephone call when the school announced it would be closing. According to the parish website, the school was forced to close because of declining enrollment.

But Rebecca Safi, a 12-year-old former student of St. Anthony School, said the students could sense something was wrong before the school year was done.

"After the [in May], people were saying, 'Did you hear the school might close? What school are you going to?'" Safi, a Butler resident, said.

Safi said she and many of her classmates had heard about the discussions during the parents' meeting, in which parents below 130 students for any three-week period, the school would be forced to shut its doors.

In June, when Safi learned the school would be closing, she said she was "sad, worried, nervous and mad." Bogert had similar emotions when she heard the school would be closing and said she felt "mad, bitter, heartbroken and betrayed."

Safi would have been entering seventh grade at St. Anthony School this year. But Safi does not blame any one person for the closing of the school.

"It was a group of people, it wasn't just one person," she said.

Safi only spent two years at St. Antony School, transfering from the , in Butler, after hearing about the experience other students had there. Like Bogert, Safi said she considered St. Anthony School home.

"We were kind of like a family. It was really hard to kind of break apart," she said.

Bogert said St. Anthony School gave her her first teaching job, which she became interested in after putting both of her daughters through the school. She is not Catholic, but said she and her husband decided to look into St. Anthony School for her kids in 1999. She said she felt a positive "aura" when she first walked through the school's doors, which are now 130 years old.

"I said to my husband, 'This is home,'" she said.

A teary-eyed Bogert recalled several memories from her years at the school, particularly joining together with parents, students and community members for morning community prayer.

"It was never just about reading, writing and arithmetic. It was so much more," she said.

Bogert said many of the teachers would spend time with the students outside the classroom and get to know them and their passions.

"We would go to the kids' baseball games and gymnastic meets because that's what a family does," she said.

The students could sense the teachers' love for the students as well, according to Safi. Safi said she will miss her teachers the most as a result of the school closing.

Now Bogert is looking for a new teaching job, a task she said is especially difficult since the teachers found out the school would be closing in the summer, when most school districts have already hired teachers for the upcoming year. Safi is looking for a new school, but hoping to continue with faith-based education and not return to public school.

Safi and her family, former parishioners of the St. Anthony of Padua parish, are also now looking for a new church.

"Ever since the school closed, we've kind of been church hopping," she said. "But we're just not ready to go back to St. Anthony yet."

Maria Ospina August 01, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Mrs. Bogert is one of a kind. She is the kind of teacher that will stop by your child’s T-Ball game just because. Send home a note not just when something goes wrong but also when your child does something right. I still have all the wonderful notes she would send home. She embodies everything you would want your child’s teacher to be.
Mary Kate Leahy August 01, 2012 at 02:43 PM
It is still so painful to hear the heartbreaking words of my St. Anthony Family! We are all still hurting so much, not only from the school closure, but the way that the entire situation was handled. The kindness and love that you feel when reading Mrs. Bogert's interview above makes me feel the saddest. Especially when I saw so much of that kindness and love in almost all of the teacher's at SAS. They loved my children and my children loved them! My family spent 9 years at SAS, since my children were in Pre-K, and I feel that these were the best years. As Julie Andrews says in The Sound of Music, "When God closes a door, he opens a window". That thought is what helps me through this difficult transitional period. My family has chosen a new school for my children and a new parish, but I will hold my memories of St. Anthony School and St. Anthony Parish dear to my heart for the rest of my life.
Jan Courtney August 01, 2012 at 04:51 PM
To my SAS family: My mother and her 6 sisters and brother all went to St. Anthony's in the "20 and 30s, my sister and I and many of my cousins went in the 50s and 60s, all four of my children went in the 80s and 90s so I know and feel your pain and loss. You know, when my children went to school there, things were not always perfect with the staff or the administration, or the priests, but when the dust clears, they leave, priests and staff but we remained. I'm still walking up valley Rd to Mabey lane and into my church and they are gone. So, when the tears have dried and the pain has subsided, come back home.
B student August 01, 2012 at 09:58 PM
The church is the people not the building. If you feel you must leave, come to my home...St Fransis of Assissi. The parish is loving, the school is wonderful. I can't believe I ever went to any other church before this. I grew up catholic in a small town. I feel at home here, I hope you will too.
Diane August 02, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Although I have found a place to land in September, I know there will never be any place like St. Anthony.


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