Catholic school closes after 110 years in operation

NASHUA – Infant Jesus School, a private Catholic elementary school for students in preschool to sixth grade, closed after 110 years in operation last week because of low enrollment.

Infant Jesus School students and families are being urged to join the St. Christopher School community, which will honor all financial aid agreements. Officials said this move is part of a long-term Nashua Catholic Schools vision.

“Our intention was to have Infant Jesus School open next year as we continue to work on the bigger picture. However, with the low enrollment of students, it was just not financially possible,” Diocese of Manchester Superintendent of Catholic Schools David Thibault told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

“It’s heartbreaking to the community, and for us, to have to do this,” Thibault acknowledged.

According to Thibault, officials in March determined that Infant Jesus School would need 77 registered students by April 30 to maintain the school’s current classroom structure, which has one teacher per grade.

In early May, parents were told the school would need to make a transition to multi-level classes, as there were only 60 students enrolled.

However, in a letter sent to parents this month, Thibault stated, “This week, we have become aware of the principal’s resignation, the resignation of contracted teachers, and that only 42 students have signed financial contracts for the 2019-2020 school year.”

Closing Infant Jesus School and welcoming students into St. Christopher School is the first phase of the Nashua Catholic Schools vision. Officials plan on adding sixth grade to Nashua Catholic Junior Regional High School, which is currently only for seventh and eighth grade students, in September 2020.

Thibault said by 2022, the schools will be merged into one Catholic Academy in Nashua. Preschool through fifth grade will be taught at St. Christopher Elementary School, while sixth through eighth grade will be at a newly-named Nashua Catholic Middle School.

He expressed gratitude for the resilience of the families.

“The families at Infant Jesus School are amazing,” Thibault said. “It is very humbling to see such a dedicated group of families who were willing to go through the changes, even with multi-level classrooms and work through that change because they love the school so much.”

Moving forward, Thibault said, “We want to make sure that families know they’re welcome at St. Christopher School and that we’re committed to continuing Catholic education.”

While it is sad to see a school close its doors after more than 100 years of operation, Thibault is looking at the positives.

“I think moving the kids into the St. Christopher School and Nashua Catholic is a good thing for them overall and will bring that sense of security and that level of confidence in knowing the schools will be around for the long run,” Thibault said.

He also said this will be a great opportunity to share amenities and resources, and ensure that Catholic education is available to anyone who desires.

Moving into the new school term, St. Christopher School will honor all financial agreements that have been made by Infant Jesus School families and will provide one free uniform to the new families this summer.

In addition, St. Christopher School officials have made sure there will be bus routes available for all students in Nashua starting this fall.

All full-time contracted staff at Infant Jesus School have found new positions, as well, Thibault said.

Infant Jesus School families are invited to attend an open house event at St. Christopher School at 6 p.m. Thursday to meet teachers and get a sense of the school’s community.

Grace Pecci may be reached at 594-1243, or at gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.