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December 6, 2007

A School on The Brink

Kevin Cullen:

The kids at St. Peter's School have started asking questions, and like any good first-grade teacher, Colleen O'Dwyer is a master of deflection.

"I tell them nothing's been decided," she was saying, as she and Courtney Carthas, a second-grade teacher, sat with seven kids for the after-school book club.

Technically, that's true, as the final decision to close the Dorchester parochial school has not been made by Cardinal Sean O'Malley. But the stars and the numbers are aligned against St. Peter's, and it is only a matter of time.

To describe St. Peter's as a victim of consolidation in an archdiocese trying to stem a decline in enrollment in its urban schools is to completely miss the importance of the building and those who people it. Sitting on Bowdoin Street, at the foot of Meetinghouse Hill, St. Peter's is more than a school. It is a haven, a sanctuary, four stories of red-brick proof that all is not lost in one of the city's toughest neighborhoods.

St. Peter's has 156 students, but with its after-school programs serves about 400 children who live around Meetinghouse Hill. One of them is Alaister Santos, a chatty, personable first-grader. When they were preparing to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of the great Barry O'Brien, the school's biggest private benefactor, Alaister had only one question: "Where was he shot?"

Posted by Jim Zellmer at December 6, 2007 12:00 AM
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