Save Bonner-Prendie effort reaches $5m goal

More news from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia:

The effort to save Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast High School just got a serious shot in the arm - officials reached their goal of raising $5 million to save the school. It is one of four high schools the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has ordered to close in June, but officials are appealing the decision.

The archdiocese will rule on all school closing appeals on Friday.

Rev. James Olson confirmed the news Tuesday, just after he told the students at the Drexel Hill school.

The school already has $1.4 million in the bank - money raised from parents, students, alumni and community members, Olson said.  Last week, an anonymous donor said that if the school raised $2.5 million, the donor would kick in another $2.5 million.

Yesterday, Olson and principal William Brannick met with another donor group who pledged to make up the difference between the $1.4 million the school already has and the $2.5 million they need to reach to get the match.

When Olson and Brannick left the meeting, they were stunned.

"This is not what we do - talk to people about millions of dollars," Olson said today.  "We said to each other, 'Did that just happen?'"

Later, Olson called one of the donors to make sure he had heard right.  He had.

"This is the real deal," he said.  "We have $5 million."

Olson said he's hopeful the fundraising will help sway the committee deciding appeals.  He's also hoping that a newly-created partnership with Chestnut Hill College will help the school's chances of staying open.

Chestnut Hill will start offering Bonner-Prendie students college courses on location at the high school in the fall.  The courses will be offered at a deep discount, Olson said, and open to juniors and seniors who can accumulate as many as 18 college credits before graduating from high school.

The college will also offer courses to the public at the high school, Olson said.