St. Mary's Catholic High School to close in Independence

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - The halls of St. Mary's High School in Independence are about to go silent. But for a while, they've been quieter than in most schools.

"Being small, you get to know everyone. Everyone's friends here. There's really no trouble," junior Andy Salva said.

Financially, it's a different story.

"A lot of sadness because this is the last class that graduates, as well as our juniors, sophomores and freshmen," Principal John O'Connor said. "This will be the last year they attend St. Mary's."

With fewer than 100 students signed up for next year, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph announced in January it could no longer keep the school going.

"With the cost of Catholic education, it's really just an economic issue that we're dealing with," O'Connor said.

The current building was constructed in 1946, but St. Mary's was actually founded all the way back in 1853, predating the first public school in Independence by a dozen years.

The final class of St. Mary's seniors will graduate on Sunday with just 27 students walking across the stage.

Underclassmen will attend classes at other Catholic and public schools next year.

The diocese said it is currently looking into options to sell or lease the St. Mary's building.

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