Trinity Catholic High School in north St. Louis County will close at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.
The decision to close the archdiocesan co-ed high school was made after archdiocesan leaders completed a financial feasibility study of the school. Several reasons were cited for the closure, including enrollment trends and infrastructure needs.
“First and foremost, this was an extremely difficult decision,” said Todd Sweda, senior director of the Office of Catholic Education and Formation and superintendent for secondary education. “In looking at the sustainability of the mission, we looked at things like enrollment trends, infrastructure needs, and we realized that the model for Trinity Catholic was not sustainable.”
Enrollment at Trinity Catholic has dropped, as has the number of prospective new students. The incoming freshman class for the 2021-22 school year was projected to be 37 students. The 2021 graduating class has 77 students. The Class of 2020 had 81 students. Current enrollment for the 2020-21 school year is 284.
Likewise, the percentage of eighth-graders in north St. Louis County elementary schools choosing to attend Trinity Catholic dropped from 31% to 4% in the last five years. Four of the top feeder schools — Christ Light of the Nations, located next to Trinity Catholic High; Academy of St. Sabina in Florissant; St. Angela Merici in Florissant; and Most Holy Trinity in north St. Louis — closed in the last five years.
Another factor was Trinity Catholic’s location near Spanish Lake, in northeastern St. Louis County near the Illinois border. Sweda said that said that many families in that area are choosing other archdiocesan, private or public high schools, especially in the southern and western parts of the archdiocese. Other families are sending their children to Marquette Catholic High School in Alton, Illinois, in the Diocese of Springfield.
In looking at the ways in which the archdiocese has served the educational needs of families, especially in north St. Louis city and north St. Louis County, “many of our families are choosing one of our other archdiocesan or private Catholic schools,” Sweda said. “We knew we could serve them well at one of our other schools and to provide that quality Catholic education that we want for any young person who wants it.”
Trinity Catholic’s facility also is in need of extensive repairs. The school was built in 1959 as Rosary High School and has not undergone any major renovations. The school building had to temporarily close earlier this year because of boiler issues.
Student, faculty/staff support
Trinity Catholic students will be invited to enroll in another archdiocesan or private Catholic high school in the St. Louis area. Transportation from North County locations already is provided by some of those schools.
Students also will be provided the services of a transition adviser, to find a new school that best meets the needs of each student, Sweda said. Scholarships, including Beyond Sunday scholarships, and financial assistance will continue for students who transfer to another Catholic high school.
Faculty and staff will receive support with job placement and management of health and retirement benefits. And teachers and families will receive support from Saint Louis Counseling, a federated agency of Catholic Charities of St. Louis.
Trinity Catholic High School traces its roots back to Mercy High School, an archdiocesan co-educational high school founded in 1948. The Sisters of Mercy served students in the central areas of St. Louis and St. Louis County for nearly 40 years until Mercy closed in the spring of 1985 and merged with St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florissant.
St. Thomas Aquinas was named after the 13th century philosopher and patron saint of education and opened in 1954 in a building at Sacred Heart Parish in Florissant. Four years later, Aquinas, led by the Sisters of St. Joseph, moved to its permanent location on Dunn Road in Florissant.
The merger of Mercy and St. Thomas Aquinas High Schools formed St. Thomas Aquinas-Mercy High School in the fall of 1985, continuing at the former Aquinas campus.
In 1961, the Archdiocese of St. Louis opened Rosary High School in Spanish Lake in collaboration with the School Sisters of Notre Dame. For more than 40 years, Rosary High School educated young men and women with dedication to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, and Our Lady of the Rosary.
St. Thomas Aquinas-Mercy and Rosary high schools merged in the fall of 2003 to become Trinity Catholic High School, located on the former Rosary campus.
The archdiocesan co-ed high school has provided a faith-based education to more than 25,000 students across the St. Louis region, under a combination of four schools and over a 73-year period.