WESTCHESTER, Ill. — St. Joseph High School in west suburban Westchester announced Tuesday it is closing permanently after 61 years.
The school will close at the end of this academic year.
“Amid the current COVID pandemic, with its severe impact on the finances of many families, and
the serious fiscal burdens St. Joseph High School has experienced during the past several years,
as well as our steadily declining school enrollment, the Board of Directors has reluctantly made
the recommendation to the Christian Brothers to cease operation of St. Joseph High School at the
conclusion of the current academic year. After a comprehensive review by the leadership
council of the Christian Brothers, the recommendation of our Board was accepted,” David Hotek, the St. Joseph principal, wrote in a letter to alumni and friends.
Terrance Patton, a St. Joseph High School junior, says the mood was somber following the news.
“It happened first period, out of the blue,” Patton said. “Some teachers didn’t know. Teachers were crying. I heard some kids were crying.”
Emory Marshall, a sophomore, says he is devastated to lose his dedicated teachers and administrators.
“It’s a real brotherhood,” Marshall said. “We all got a strong connection to each other.”
The high school is home to the state champion basketball team, the Chargers, who won the title in 1999 and 2015.
The school was featured heavily in the 1994 documentary “Hoop Dreams.”
Professional athletes like Hall of Fame basketball player Isaiah Thomas, who famously commuted from the Westside to play and NBA star Evan Turner established a rich sports tradition.
Legendary St. Joseph basketball coach Gene Pingatore died in 2019.
According to The Chicago Sun-Times, he is the winningest coach in state history, with a record of 1035-383 in 50 years.
According to the high school principal’s letter, St. Joseph opened in 1960 and educated more than 11,600 students.