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Mount Carmel Will Remain All-Boys School As Leaders Take Coed Plan Off The Table For Good

The Catholic school considered going coeducational. But leaders are abandoning the plan after a negative response from parents.

Students at Mt. Carmel High School.
Facebook/ Mt. Carmel High School

WOODLAWN — After considering going coed, Mount Carmel High School will remain an all-boys school into the future, officials announced Tuesday.

The decision comes after school President Brendan Conroy told Block Club Sunday that going coeducational would be “off the table” for the 2023 academic year and officials were still mulling the future. 

On Tuesday, school officials sent out a news release saying leaders had formally decided to remain all-male into the future. Conroy confirmed the decision, saying going coeducational was off the table for good.

“We are committed to all-boys education because we know that’s what we’re strong at,” Conroy said.

The school announced in late June it was considering coeducation for fall 2023, citing declining enrollment at single-gender Catholic schools across the archdiocese. Leaders announced a series of six forums to discuss the decision with stakeholders, including parents, students and alumni. 

Surveys conducted by the school and interviews with parents showed the feedback to coeducation at Mount Carmel was overwhelmingly negative. School leaders acknowledged the process in the news release announcing the decision Tuesday.

“The results of the feedback have made it overwhelmingly clear that Mount Carmel High School’s stakeholders want Mount Carmel to remain all-male, and that changing the school’s all-male tradition is not in the best interest of the school. Therefore, Mount Carmel will continue its all-male tradition,” according to the news release. “Stakeholders’ input indicated that future generations will be best served by continuing to offer young men an opportunity to learn, mature and form mutual bonds of friendship in Mount Carmel’s all-male environment. In addition, attracting female students to Mount Carmel would be a daunting challenge.”

School leaders were originally slated to announce a decision after their Aug. 10 meeting with Carmelite leadership. But they said in the release that after hearing feedback from the forums, they wanted to expedite the decision for the sake of stakeholders.  

“The board felt compelled to inform current Mount Carmel families of the decision to remain all-male now rather than making them wait. And, because the decision is to remain all-male, the Carmelites will not have to consider it,” according to the news release.

A historic all-boys school in Woodlawn on the South Side, Mount Carmel has a long list of well-known alumni that range from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. 

School leaders said Tuesday their decision to consider coeducation came after seeing enrollment numbers for the 2023 calendar year. But after hearing feedback from constituents, they think Mount Carmel is best served to approach the challenge while remaining an all-male school, focusing instead on male recruitment and fundraising. 

Marc Santana, who graduated from Mount Carmel in 2017, said he was opposed to the decision to go coed because he felt it would negatively impact fundraising. He supported the decision Tuesday.

“I stand by the school and what they said,” Santana said. “I’m happy about it.”

Sarah Hoehn, a Mount Carmel parent who has been active in her opposition to the school going coed, hailed the decision.

“I was speechless, and then I had tears of joy,” Hoehn said. “I think [Mount Carmel] is a beautiful place, and this allows it to be the beautiful place that celebrates boys.”

Responding to questions about whether the school would revisit the prospect of coeducation if enrollment continued to decline, Conroy said the school is focused on continuing its legacy as a premier institute of all-male education.

“We are going to shoulder into the challenges that we face,” Conroy said. “Our community has rallied, and we are excited about the future of Mount Carmel as a school that is going to continue its 122-year tradition as an all-male school.”

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