Chatham Catholic school closing its doors after 100 years

St. Joseph Catholic School. (Photo courtesy of Google Street View)

The St. Clair Catholic District School Board has announced that St. Joseph Catholic School will be closing in June.

The Chatham elementary school has been around for over 100 years.

The school board issued a statement on Tuesday which said, beginning in September, students and staff will be moved to St. Ursula School. The amalgamation of the two is part of the board’s process, on the road to introducing a new building to house St. Joseph, St. Ursula and George P Vanier school in south Chatham.

It will be a sad goodbye for the school, but SCCDSB Superintendent Laura Callaghan said it is the first step to a new, exciting building for students in all three of the schools.

“It’s been an education piece in Chatham for over 100 years so obviously it has a lot of history,” said Callaghan. “So as we say goodbye to St. Joseph’s we’re going to do the best we can to honour that history.”

In June of 2017, the Ontario Ministry of Education announced that it approved the SCCDSB’s funding request for $26.7 million to build two new Catholic elementary schools in Chatham. The funding also included child care facilities at both locations. According to a report which passed through municipal council, one of the new Catholic schools will be built on the north side to replace St. Vincent, St. Agnes, and Our Lady of Fatima. The other one will go on the south side, to replace St. Joseph, St. Ursula, and Georges P. Vanier.

Finding the land remains the next priority for the school board, said Callaghan.

“Stay tuned,” she said. “In order to ensure the best quality, excellent Catholic education we can provide for our students that consolidating the staff of St. Ursula and St. Josephs next year would be the best thing for our families.”

The school board will begin planning over the next several weeks for ways to bring the two school communities together to ensure a smooth transition. A community get-together has been tentatively scheduled for June 9, said Callaghan.