Mount Carmel High School will remain all male in future

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Mount Carmel High School announced Aug. 2 that its discernment process about whether to admit female students starting in 2023 had come to an early end, and the school will remain all boys.

After holding several listening sessions with different groups of stakeholders, including students, parents, faculty and staff and alumni, it became “overwhelmingly clear” that the preference was to continue to educate young men in a single-sex environment, said Mount Carmel High School President Brendan Conroy.

Mount Carmel, 6410 S. Dante Ave., has been educating boys for 122 years.

“I think for the alumni in particular, it comes from their own experience,” Conroy said. “The alumni will tell you what a great experience they had attending Mount Carmel as an all-boys school, and the want the same experience for their sons.”

Conroy said that students, alumni and staff agreed that an all-boys educational environment allows students to mature and develop into young men without being distracted by the presence of girls.

“The way one of our staff members put it is that Mount Carmel is a place where a boy can come and grow into his skin,” Conroy said.

Mount Carmel announced in June that it was starting the process to determine whether it made strategic sense for the school to become coeducational in the fall of 2023. The review was prompted by downward elementary and high school enrollment trends, a responsibility to keep Mount Carmel thriving into the future and a desire to be proactive in its decision-making from a position of strength, Conroy said.

The school last year had an enrollment of 573 students, in the 570-600 range it has maintained for several years, he explained when the listening sessions were announced. The school can accommodate up to about 800 students.

“We often talk with faculty about becoming the premier all-male school in Chicago, in the Midwest, and in the United States,” Conroy said. “We aspire to that, and we will relentlessly pursue enrollment growth, increased alumni engagement and our ability to raise funds necessary for a thriving future. Our Mount Carmel community has spoken. We will need everyone to help us achieve those goals.”

The original plan was to seek feedback and then for the school’s board of directors and board of members — made up of Carmelite priests and brothers — to make the decision at meetings Aug. 9 and 10.

But the response was “robust and compelling” enough, according to a statement from the school, that the decision was obvious to the board of directors, who did not want to make the school community wait any longer for a decision.

“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 and remain true to its mission, ‘Zeal for God, zeal for life, zeal for learning.’”

Because the decision was to remain all-male, the Carmelites did not have to consider it.

“It is time to look ahead to a bright future,” asserted Mount Carmel High School Board Chair, Don Barry. “As we move forward, it is our goal to continue to ensure the brightest possible future for our young men.”

The board and school leaders acknowledged that the demographics for enrollment are challenging, particularly for all-boys schools, but Mount Carmel has the advantage of addressing its needs before becoming victim to those demographics.

“We are confident that together we will succeed,” said Mount Carmel High School Principal Scott Tabernacki. “We firmly believe, and our stakeholders have made it clear that they, too, believe, that Mount Carmel will continue to evolve to successfully meet the challenges ahead.”


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