Mount Carmel will remain an all-boys school as leaders permanently remove the coeducational plan from the table

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WOODLAWN — After considering becoming a coed, Mount Carmel High School will remain an all-boys school in the future, officials said Tuesday.

The decision comes after school president Brendan Conroy told the Block Club on Sunday that coeducation would be “out of order” for the 2023 school year and officials were still considering the future.

On Tuesday, school officials sent out a press release saying the leaders had officially decided to remain all-male going forward. Conroy confirmed the decision, saying coeducation was not on the cards for good.

“We are committed to the education of all boys because we know that is what we are strong at,” Conroy said.

The school announced in late June that it was considering coeducation for fall 2023, citing declining enrollment at single-sex Catholic schools in the archdiocese. Leaders announced a series of six forums to discuss the decision with stakeholders, including parents, students and alumni.

School surveys and parent interviews showed that reactions to coeducation at Mount Carmel were overwhelmingly negative. Headteachers acknowledged the process in the press release announcing the decision on Tuesday.

“The feedback results made it clear that stakeholders at Mount Carmel High School want Mount Carmel to remain all-male and that changing the school’s all-male tradition is not in the best interest of the school. Therefore, Mount Carmel will continue its all-male tradition,” according to the press release. “Stakeholder feedback indicated that future generations will be better served by continuing to provide opportunities for young men to learn, grow and form mutual friendships in the all-male environment of Mount Carmel. Also, attracting female students to Mount Carmel would be a tall order.

Headteachers were originally expected to announce a decision after their Aug. 10 meeting with Carmelite leaders. But they said in the statement that after hearing feedback from the forums, they wanted to expedite the decision for the sake of stakeholders.

“The council felt compelled to inform current Mount Carmel families of the decision to remain all-male now rather than keep them waiting. And, because the decision is to remain entirely male, the Carmelites will not have to think about it,” according to the press release.

A historic boys’ school in Woodlawn on the South Side, Mount Carmel has a long list of well-known alumni that range from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Headteachers said on Tuesday their decision to consider coeducation came after seeing enrollment numbers for the 2023 calendar year. But after hearing feedback from voters, they believe Mount Carmel is better served to rise to the challenge while remaining an all-male school, instead focusing on male recruitment and fundraising.

Marc Santana, a 2017 Mount Carmel graduate, said he was opposed to the decision to become a student because he felt it would have a negative impact on fundraising. He backed the decision on Tuesday.

“I support the school and what they said,” Santana said. “I’m happy.”

Sarah Hoehn, a Mount Carmel mother who has been active in her opposition to the student school, welcomed the decision.

“I was speechless, then I had tears of joy,” Hoehn said. “I think [Mount Carmel] is a beautiful place, and that allows it to be the beautiful place that celebrates the boys.

Responding to questions about whether the school would reconsider the prospect of co-education if enrollment continues to decline, Conroy said the school is focused on continuing its legacy as the first all-male education institute.

“We will rise to the challenges that we face,” Conroy said. “Our community has rallied together and we are excited about the future of Mount Carmel as a school that will continue its 122-year tradition as an all-male school.”

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