By Jeff Noble
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The drive up the hill to St. Camillus Academy was a somber one Wednesday morning.
At the top of the hill, in front of the buildings where students have classes, and in front of a fountain, there is a statue of St. Francis. He has a bird perched on his right shoulder. With his left hand and arm, he comforts a lamb, as he looks down.
Combined with the news that the school will close in May, and the cold, rainy day that hung over Corbin like a thick blanket, the saint’s looking down was especially poignant.
For those parents who have children going to school there, the pace of life was a little slower and sadder Wednesday. That’s because their children were told the news of the closing that morning.
“It’s a very sad day. Nobody wants to see St. Camillus leave. It’s more than just a school,” said Pam Mills of Corbin.
Her 8-year-old son is in the second grade there, and it’s his fourth year at the school.
“They’ve been a second family to me. We’ll do everything we can to keep it open,” Mills noted.
For Raji Patil and her family, the closing in May of St. Camillus will be a void that needs to be filled.
“I was there today when they told the kids the school was closing. It was very sad. Everybody was in tears. The teachers, the students, and some of the parents. People were trying to figure out what happened, and what would happen next,” she said Wednesday.
Patil and her husband have two children who go to the school. Their 7-year-old is a second grader, while their 5-year-old is in kindergarten. She also serves on the school board, who heard the news Tuesday evening.
Patil said the initial shock of the news that night at the school board meeting would eventually give way to what she hopes will be action.
“When the superintendent of the diocese announced it at the meeting, we were in utter shock. Then after a few minutes, we all rallied around the idea of hope. … Our two children love the personal attention with the smaller classes. It really is a family atmosphere there. We’re hoping that we can get grants and donations to keep our doors open. I like to think of this as an investment in our future by keeping the school alive. I’m hoping this won’t be the end.”