Community saves St. Mary's Academy

CHAMPLAIN - St. Mary's Academy will remain open.

The pre-kindergarten through sixth grade parochial school overseen by St. Mary's Church was facing a challenge by its leadership to raise $80,000 by June 1. However, the school has met the challenge ahead of schedule, said principal Sister Marie Cordata Kelly.

"I wasn't sure we'd raise the $80,000," admitted Kelly, who was faced with the challenge in February. "It was so much. But, I asked people to pray for what God wanted for the school and this is apparently what he wanted. I'm just in awe."

Donations began to trickle in shortly after the challenge was raised and soon, the trickle became a steady flow, said Kelly. The steady flow was the helped by large outpourings of support in the form of larger donations in the amounts of $5,000, $9,000 and then $10,000.

"That's when I realized we were going to make it," said Kelly.

Reaching the goal in a little less than three months was nothing short of a miracle, said Kelly.

"I think only God could do that," she said. "God and a community that came forward to show how they feel about this school."

The school was in its dire financial situation after the church had a decline in enrollment, resulting in $50,000 worth of debt needing to be rolled over onto the school's 2010-11 budget. Now that the money has been raised, a contingency fund has been established to help the school stay out of similar financial situations in the future, said Kelly. However, the school is not out of the woods yet.

"We still need to increase our enrollment," said Kelly.

The number of students currently enrolled at the school is just more than a hundred, she said. In order to continue on the path of a healthy financial status, those numbers must increase by another 15 students for the 2011-12 school year.

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