John Paul II Academy in Claremont closes

The John Paul II Academy shut down this week after it failed to get more than five students for the coming school year.

CLAREMONT — The John Paul II Academy is shutting down after one year in existence, ending the experiment to return a parochial school to St. Mary’s Parish.

The Rev. Shawn Therrien let parishioners, school parents, and staff know this weekend that the school is closing. It was scheduled to start the school year this week.

Therrien could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. According to the letter he sent over the weekend, the school did not have the funds to continue for another year given the extremely low enrollment.

“Hindsight is always 20/20 and I am sure there are things that could have been done better, but no form of armchair quarterbacking is ever helpful,” Therrien wrote.

St. Mary’s Catholic School closed in 2008 after decades in existence. In 2009, New England Classical Academy opened in the old St. Mary’s building, with many of the same St. Mary’s students. The private Catholic school moved out a few years later, taking its students to a new location in another part of town.

The new John Paul II Academy had the backing of Therrien and the Diocese of Manchester, but it failed to attract students.

John Paul II opened last year with 11 students, and ended the year with 10, according to Tom Bebbington, spokesman for the diocese. This year, John Paul II Academy was slated to open with 5 enrolled students.

The school’s website is still advertising open enrollment, as well as employment opportunities as of Wednesday.

Therrien said in his letter that the school building on Central Street will still be used for religious education and other functions. He hopes to have another opportunity to start a parochial school at St. Mary’s sometime in the future.

“It is still my hope that in time our parish will again have a Catholic School of which we will be proud,” Therrien wrote.

The John Paul Academy charged tuition for the pre-K through grade 12 school that ranged from $5,600 to $7,900 before tuition assistance.