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Mercy and McAuley merge shocks the westside

Two all-girls schools filled with rich Catholic tradition combine, leaving McAuley as the only standing.

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It was recently announced that the two Catholic, all-girls institutions, Mother of Mercy High School and McAuley High School are merging into one school at McAuley. This announcement was made known to not only the schools’ students bodies, but to nearly the whole westside of Cincinnati on March 2nd, 2017.

The reactions to this event are somber, depressing, and more than anything shocking. However, to obtain the proper viewpoint of the current situation, the history and traditions of the two schools need to be addressed.

Mother of Mercy High School was established in 1915, and is sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy, a religious community founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland. The schoolhouse was at first intended to be a secondary school for young women, but it was expanded into an elementary school, thus granting the requests of the parents.

85 year old Maggie Mazza recalls these past events of Mother of Mercy remarkably well from first-hand experience. Her mother was among the first class to graduate from the school, and she is an Alumna from the class of 1950. As previously mentioned, Mercy at one point in time contained an elementary school, and Maggie taught those elementary students for five years.

Mother of Mercy High School and McAuley High School side by side

Maggie expresses her sorrow regarding the news stating, “It is really a sad and shocking thing to see such a big piece of our community with deep roots in our history be taken away. But from what I’ve learned, that is just the way life goes, and the students, faculty, and every member of the Mercy community needs to try their best to stay positive in such a sad situation.”

Although Mercy seems to be the center of attention, McAuley High School cannot be ignored. After all, the students currently attending Mercy from  10th grade and younger will be enrolled at McAuley in 2018.

McAuley’s doors were first opened in 1960. Although Mercy may have a longer history in Cincinnati, McAuley contains striking similarities when compared to Mercy. In fact, Catherine McAuley, whom the school is named after, was the founder of the Sisters of Mercy. The school has also attained the title of a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S Department of Education.

The past time of these two schools are meaningful, however, the reasoning behind the merging needs to be accounted for. There are numerous rumors concerning the causes of the closing of Mercy, so the truth needs to be sorted out in order to fully understand the circumstance.

I was fortunate enough to contact the two chairmen (head) of Mercy’s Capital Campaign, Jerry and Amy Maas. Amy explained, “It really has to do with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati not funding Mercy because of the amount of Catholic schools in Cincinnati.”

She further claimed, “There is not enough money to go around and with the lack of students and boosters funding we were heading for disaster and would have needed a miracle amount of money to keep the school running for another decade.”

“Change is good. Change allows us to reflect, revise, re-focus, and re-commit. A Mercy education is not going anywhere.””

— Kate Mitchell

Amid all of the stress and shock, the most affected people by the situation are the students and faculty themselves. Most of the reactions are negative, however a Mercy teacher, Kate Mitchell, had a more uplifting message saying, “Our campus is gorgeous, but the heart and soul of the school is not walls and stairways and murals… it’s our students, our faculty and staff (both past and present), and our alumnae.”

A junior student at Mercy, Emme Olinger, had similar thoughts as she stated,”Although this news is heartbreaking, I’m so excited to see all of the good that will come out of this. It will be an honor to be a part of the last graduating class from Mother of Mercy, but this is not the end. The community is a blessing in itself, and that will never end. The sisterhood comes from the people, not the building.”

When asked about her emotions regarding the combining process, Mercy junior Kiki Carle responded, “Although it’s sad that after us there will no other young girls who get to walk down the aisle at graduation, I feel blessed that I get to be a part of the last graduating class. Also you can take the girls out of Mercy, but you cannot take the Mercy out of the girls, and I will be thankful for that forever.”

Emotions were running so high throughout school that a passionate Mercy student even went as far as to make a video in hopes of contacting Ellen DeGeneres. One may ask, why would you want to seek help from Ellen in such a time of need? Well, from the contents of the video it appears she was hoping Ellen would save the closing of Mercy through one form or another.

Outreach to Ellen is not the only attempt to save Mercy, as Congressman Steve Chabot has started a petition to stop the merging of McAuley and Mercy.

Whether these combining plans end up as a reality or not, it is necessary to embrace changes that inevitably happen. Kate Mitchell stated how to endure the changes perfectly. As she advised, “Change is good. Change allows us to reflect, revise, re-focus, and re-commit. A Mercy education is not going anywhere.”

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Mercy and McAuley merge shocks the westside