Nearly 150 years ago, St. Scholastica Academy opened its doors to educate German immigrants.
This September, the school will once again be a place of learning for immigrant children when the United Neighborhood Organization moves in and welcomes an anticipated 570 Latino immigrant students.
St. Scholastica announced Sunday that UNO signed on to lease most of the Rogers Park campus and open a new charter school Sept. 4. UNO is a Chicago-based organization focused on helping Latino children and families successfully assimilate to American culture. UNO currently runs 11 charter schools across the city, with about 5,500 total students enrolled.
The new Rogers Park campus will be UNO’s second North Side location, along with a school in the Avondale neighborhood. The other 10 schools are concentrated in the city’s South and West sides.
“The Benedictine sisters are continuing their mission by opening their doors to us,” UNO’s CEO Juan Rangel said. “St. Scholastica has rich history, and we’re excited for an opportunity to be a part of it.”
St. Scholastica, formerly an all-girls Roman Catholic school, announced in March the institution would be closing its doors this summer. The third floor of one of the school’s buildings will remain open as a Senior Academy so the girls currently enrolled can finish out their education together, said Sister Patricia Crowley, prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago.
Though St. Scholastica Academy closed, the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago are not moving, Crowley said. They are staying in the monastery, she said.
Both UNO and St. Scholastica declined to say how much UNO would be paying for the lease. Rangel said the dollar amount was decided by a formula based on square footage.
“The terms were agreeable to both of us,” Crowley said.
Rangel said UNO is anticipating about 570 students at the Rogers Park campus this fall, with two classrooms per grade level. Though it’s a large number of students to sign on, he said they’re not worried about the recruitment process.
Crowley said there are plans for the students attending St. Scholastica’s remaining Senior Academy to work with UNO students, but no plans have been solidified yet.
The school is initially going to serve students in kindergarten through 8th grade, Rangel said, but the hope is to eventually teach students through 12th grade.
“Right now, we’ve got a very aggressive recruitment campaign for students going on,” Rangel said. “We’ve done this before and won’t have a problem. I have no doubt we’ll meet our goal.”
Rangel said he wants UNO to become a staple part of Rogers Park. UNO has no plans to end the lease any time soon, he said.
“We’re going to make investments in the building and be an anchor for Rogers Park for a very long time,” he said. “We see ourselves as part of the community and its future.”
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