Students at a financially troubled Catholic high school in New Jersey are hoping to raise $1 million by the end of the month to avoid closure.
The roughly 285 students at Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington come from as far away as Newark and Paterson, Bayonne and Bayville, and they're now facing the possibility the 82-year-old school may have to close its doors.
Some fiscal mismanagement has mired the school into a financial quicksand, but declining enrollment has been especially pronounced: just 10 years ago, there were 800 students enrolled there.
"Catholic education is always on tenterhooks. Schools everywhere are facing declining enrollments, but in this part of New Jersey, with so many good public schools and taxes so high, it's a struggle," said Fr. Mike Donovan, president of Queen of Peace High School.
Junior Anthony Gerace wants desperately to spend his last year in the high school where he started.
"It's got a lot of caring people in it, they care about your problems," he said.
The students have raised close to $60,000 on a GoFundMe page, and hope to raise thousands more at a pep rally Friday night. But it's hard to tell if they have a prayer in raising $1 million by the end of the month.
"It sounds like a big effort, but it can be done," said Donovan.
"I hope we can do it," said parent Cynthia Bennett. "It's heartbreaking."