The following comes from a July 29 Merced Sun-Star article by Brianna Vaccari:
Our Lady of Miracles Catholic School in Gustine will stay open, church officials confirmed.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno and Office of Catholic Education announced the decision to leave the school open late Tuesday, reversing actions taken a week ago to shutter the decades old religious school.
Nearly a week ago, the Bishop Rev. Armando X. Ochoa of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno said Our Lady of Miracles would not reopen for the 2015-16 school year because of low enrollment and lack of leadership. The decision came as a surprise to parents and community leaders, who voiced hope for the school to find a way to stay open.
Krista Duarte, an alumna and parent of Our Lady of Miracle students, said she was happy to see the school stay open.
“I think it’s going to be nothing but positive for everybody, the community and the school,” Duarte said Wednesday.
Ochoa, along with Mona Faulkner, the superintendent of Catholic schools, appointed Chandra Brace as the school’s new principal and Melissa Meneses as the director of enrollment, marketing and communications.
Brace, a member of Our Lady of Miracles Parish, has four children who attend the school and has been the summer school principal at Gustine High School, according to the Office of Catholic Education. Brace has a California administrative credential.
Meneses has been the principal at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in Dalhart, Texas. Meneses will focus on “enrollment challenges,” developing a campaign aimed at increasing the student population, the Office of Catholic Education said.
“With the appointment of these two key school administrators, Our Lady of Miracles School is now situated to begin addressing the challenges that prompted the decision to close the school,” the Office of Catholic Education said in a statement. “It is the sincere interest and desire of Bishop Ochoa that Our Lady of Miracles School remain open and continues to provide a Catholic education for the children of Gustine and the surrounding areas.”
Duarte said parents were notified in an email about the new hires Tuesday afternoon.
Since parents were told a week ago the school would close, about 100 people gathered on campus each night for a prayer vigil, Duarte said. When the community found out the school would stay open after all, the vigils turned into a rally where registration packets and fliers for fundraisers were passed out.
“The school closing really did bring out the community in way I didn’t think would happen,” she said.