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North Cambridge Catholic to relocate to Dorchester

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BRAINTREE -- Citing geographic, enrollment, and physical plant concerns, officials from North Cambridge Catholic High School (NCCHS) and the Archdiocese of Boston have announced that the school will relocate from its current Cambridge location to the site of the former St. William School in Dorchester for the 2010-11 school year.

The school will be renamed Cristo Rey Boston as a result of the move.

“I guess it’s for the best,” said Theresa Mazzarella, an NCCHS freshman who is a resident of East Boston. “Our school is pretty small and old. The new school is twice the size. It’s a lot closer. Most of the kids live around there.”

NCCHS officials say that the school is moving to Dorchester because most of the school’s students live in Boston, and the St. William’s site will be better able to accommodate a growing student body and address the current need for an improved facility.

Jeff Thielman, president of North Cambridge Catholic, said that 65-percent of students currently live in Boston, and the remainder lives outside the city.

One such student is Claudaire Jeudy, a freshman from Everett.

“It’s going to be farther away from where I live, so that means I have to get up earlier and make sure I get out of my house on time,” Jeudy said. “I’m OK with the move if it’s going to be better off for everybody.”

The new location will, however, significantly cut travel time for many students.

“It’ll take as much as one-and-a-half to two hours of travel time off their hands every day,” said Thomas P. O’Neill, III, chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees and a member of the North Cambridge Catholic Class of 1962.

Overcrowding is also a problem at the school.

With an enrollment of 260, Thielman said the school plans to grow to 400 over a 4-year period.

“We’re going to Dorchester to grow” he said.

O’Neill said that last year, the school had over 1,000 inquiries from interested families.

“We need a larger facility and a more modern facility,” he added.

O’Neill noted that the former St. William School building is in good condition, but will need science and computer laboratories, office space for the work-study program and the counseling departments, and improvements to the cafeteria by the start of the school year in August. He also indicated the need for a theater and performing arts space and a gymnasium.

He said that the school would be seeking funds from Boston area foundations and donors to assist in paying for the improvements. Thielman added that the art room will need to be upgraded as well.

“Everything is begged or borrowed for,” O’Neill said. “Frankly, the moving around of these students to get to a gym is extraordinary.”

Thielman said that Masses could be held in the cafeteria or at the nearby Blessed Mother Theresa Parish.

The new location is also closer to public transportation. St. William’s is directly across from the Savin Hill MBTA station.

“You can’t beat it in terms of location to a T stop,” Thielman said. “You can’t beat it in terms of safety. You get out of the T stop and you literally walk 50 yards.”

NCCHS is a member of the Cristo Rey network, an association of 24 Catholic college preparatory high schools across the country that serve low-income students. All students at the Cristo Rey schools are enrolled in a corporate work-study program to off-set their tuition and gain professional experience.

Students at North Cambridge Catholic work at various corporations and non-profit organizations in eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, according to Terry Gupta, the Business Development Director for the school’s work-study program.

The nation’s first Cristo Rey school was opened by the Society of Jesus in Chicago in 1996, and today 5,892 Cristo Rey students share jobs at more than 1,400 businesses nationwide. Each year, 96 percent of the schools’ graduates are accepted to college. There are currently two Cristo Rey schools within the Archdiocese of Boston, North Cambridge Catholic and Notre Dame High School in Lawrence.

North Cambridge Catholic High School began as St. John’s High School in 1921 when it was part of a Cambridge parish. In 1957, the school moved to its current site in Cambridge, and in 2004 North Cambridge Catholic became a member of the Cristo Rey Network and adopted its work-study model.

All alumni records from North Cambridge Catholic High School and St. John’s High School will remain with Cristo Rey Boston.

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