February 8, 2024
Dear OLMA Families, Alumnae and Friends,
One month ago, we announced with great sadness the closing of Our Lady of Mercy Academy at the conclusion of this school year due to changing demographics and lower enrollment which has decreased by 45 percent in the past 10 years. This decision was made after extensive deliberations by the school’s leadership and governing boards: OLMA Board of Directors, Mercy Education Board of Directors, and the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy.
Since announcing Our Lady of Mercy Academy’s closure, there has been an outpouring of love and support from the extended Mercy community who have a deep love and respect for OLMA. Please know that your kind messages have bolstered us during the grieving process.
Additionally, over the past month there has been an external, concerted effort on the part of some alumnae, families, current and former employees, benefactors and friends to reverse the decision. While we commend every Mercy girl, present and past, and community member who desires and has taken action to keep OLMA open, we encourage that this energy be redirected to support the many needs of our students and staff during this last academic year. Many of you have asked for clarification about this effort, and here we must reiterate that the decision to close is final and we will not be entertaining any circumstances that would alter this fact. We do not want to foster false hope that the ongoing “save the school” attempts will reverse the closing of the school. Our focus is and will remain on educating our students through the end of this school year, graduating our final senior class, transitioning our current students to other schools, and assisting our employees in the next step in their professional careers.
We thank our dedicated faculty and staff, who have cherished their responsibility to share the Mercy Catholic values and traditions with their students. We will always remain grateful to our dedicated Sisters of Mercy who had the foresight to establish Our Lady of Mercy Academy. It is upon their shoulders that we stand today mindful of our privilege to have nurtured and experienced a life-changing Mercy education. As we move forward, we pray that these Mercy Catholic values and traditions will remain guiding stars for all the students, faculty and staff and the families and benefactors that have enriched our lives. In the spirit of Catherine McAuley, the Circle of Mercy truly is timeless and may it always remain in our hearts.
Virginia A. Ewen ‘76, OLMA Board of Directors, Chairperson
Margaret Myhan ‘70, President
cc: Sr. Lisa Griffith, Executive Director, Mercy Education System
We are committed to ensuring a smooth transition to your next school. Transcripts up to and including the first semester of the current academic year (2023-2024) will be available in the weeks following mid-term exams, which begin January 22, 2024.
A transfer packet for each student in grades 9-11 will be mailed directly to the school each student is transferring to. Letters of Recommendation will be provided for Juniors ONLY and will be sent directly to the school each student will be attending in the fall. All students will receive a Transfer letter that will be included in each packet that will be sent directly to the school each student is attending in the fall.
We will keep you informed about this process in the coming weeks. Please know we continue to be in conversation with other area schools to assure a smooth application and transition process for each of you.
The Guidance Department will send a Transfer letter, School Profile, your transcript and Letters of Recommendation (for Juniors only) to the school of your choice.
Please be mindful of the following important dates as you plan your transfer:
Transportation: April 1 is the transportation deadline for busing in all districts within a 15-mile radius.
Mandated Services: June 1 is the deadline for IEP/Special Services.
Textbooks: No deadline has been established yet, but we will share the information when available.
Your college application process will proceed as planned. Official transcripts will be sent to colleges/universities at the conclusion of the academic year and an unofficial copy of your transcript will be mailed home. The signed records release forms are due to Guidance by Wednesday, May 1, 2024.
You should contact us directly by phone at 516-921-1047 between the hours of 8:00 AM and 1:00 PM, Monday-Thursday through August 30, 2024. Leave a voicemail message if no one answers your call and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
Protocols are being developed for how to obtain information and permanent records after August 30, 2024, and that information will be shared when available.
As a reminder, Letters of Recommendation will be provided for all Juniors and will be sent directly to the school each student will be attending in the fall. Additionally, all students will receive a Transfer letter as a part of the transfer packet that will be sent directly to the school each student is attending in the fall.
Contact your OLMA guidance counselor for transcripts and/or academic records.
For school transcripts after September 1, 2024, location TBD.
Yes, phones will be answered between the hours of 8:00AM and 1:00 PM Monday-Thursday from July 1st to August 30th. You can always leave a voicemail message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
- Transportation: April 1, 2024, is the transportation deadline for busing in all districts within a 15 mile radius.
- Mandated Services: June 1, 2024, is the deadline for IEP/Special Services.
- Textbooks: No deadline has been established yet, but we will share the information when available.
Final transcripts will be available after final grades are posted. This normally occurs no later than July 15 each year and we do not anticipate that changing.
As a reminder, official transcripts for all students will be sent to your new school and an unofficial copy of your transcript will be mailed home the week of February 11. The signed records release forms are due to the Guidance Department by Wednesday, May 1, 2024. OLMA will not be able to send the official transcripts to your new school unless a signed records release form is received.
We will ensure that you will always have access to your academic records when you need them. During the summer, you can call the school from July 1st to August 30th between the hours of 8:00AM and 1:00 PM, Monday-Thursday. You can always leave a voicemail message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
The future location of permanent records is to be determined and will be shared with students and parents.
We are eternally grateful to our generous donors for their support of OLMA. All funds recently received have been allocated for the benefit of our students, including, but not limited to, scholarships, financial aid, operating expenses, technology, and necessary improvements and upgrades, which have enhanced students’ educational and extracurricular experience at OLMA.
The final OLMA run and supported alumnae event will be held on June 22 and 23, 2024.
Over the next few months, OLMA seeks to identify individuals willing to take on the role of being a Class Rep. The responsibility of a Class Rep is to maintain communication with fellow classmates, including news and information on upcoming events from fellow alumnae after June 23, 2024.
If you are interested in becoming a Class Rep or need additional information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although Our Lady of Mercy Academy is responsible for maintaining the building and property, the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas are the sole owners of the property and building on Convent Road.
Mercy Education and The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy are not involved in the day to day operation of OLMA. They provide oversight of the governance of the school. In accordance with the by-laws of Our Lady of Mercy Academy, two Sisters of Mercy sit on the Board of Directors.
The Financial Operations of OLMA are managed in conjunction with the OLMA Board of Directors and associated Investment and Finance Committees as well as the designated auditors.
“The tender Mercy of God has given us one another.” These are the words of the Venerable Catherine McAuley that we must hold close to our hearts as we journey toward the completion of OLMA’s final academic year.
Since announcing Our Lady of Mercy Academy’s closure, we have been heartened by the outpouring of love and support we have received from those in the community who have a deep love and respect for OLMA. We have also understandably received messages from those who are suffering from this loss. We, too, are grieving. This was a painful decision for all of us, including OLMA’s Board of Directors, who worked tirelessly and with the highest integrity, loyalty, expertise, and commitment to the Mercy mission. All of us have done our due diligence and explored ways to keep OLMA open.
As stated in the initial announcement, while connected to revenue, changing demographics and decreased enrollment are reasons OLMA must close. Enrollment has been progressively decreasing for the past 10 years, which has forced us into a deficit for the past several years. The Class of 2004 graduated 108, Class of 2014 graduated 122, Class of 2020 graduated 82, and the Class of 2024 will graduate 55. We have shared this information openly at alumnae events and with our donors. As many of you know, there has been a decrease in the number of feeder Catholic elementary schools to OLMA by almost 70% in the past ten years, which has been a major contributing factor to the lower enrollment numbers. These changing demographics have left us with only 35 freshman girls currently enrolled. Unfortunately, our efforts to increase enrollment to a sustainable level have been unsuccessful.
While this is certainly not the outcome we had been praying for, there is no viable alternative.
While OLMA explored alternatives such as going co-ed, adding a middle school, and expanding our International program, these considerations were not viable at this time. We are aware that many are grieving the news of this closure and have expressed a desire to raise money or develop alternative proposals to keep the school open. However, the Governing Boards are not entertaining any circumstances that would reverse the decision to close. This decision is final.
Our focus is and must remain on educating our students through the end of this school year, graduating our final senior class, transitioning our current students to other schools, assisting our employees in the next step of their professional careers, and ensuring that our alumnae have an alma mater they can be proud of. We cannot hold open the possibility of reversing this decision to keep OLMA open. It would simply not be fair to any of the students, families, employees, or alumnae.
While some have asked about a phased closure, where OLMA would stop accepting any new students while allowing the 2025, 2026, and 2027 classes to graduate from Mercy, please know that this option was explored, but ultimately was found to be unsuitable for many reasons. In addition to the logistical and financial challenges associated with maintaining the minimum facilities and staffing levels, phased closures create great uncertainty among students, parents, and employees and lead to higher levels of anxiety and stress. We concluded that the knowledge of OLMA’s closure would result in decreased morale, motivation, and engagement. In a phased closure, as each class graduates and students and staff leave, the opportunity for students to participate in OLMA athletics and other extracurricular activities would greatly diminish. Such an experience is not what OLMA students deserve.
We understand that this decision will bring change for many in our community, and that each person will be impacted differently. Throughout this transition, our girls will remain our top priority, and we are committed to doing everything we can to assist them as they move forward in their academic careers.
Many of you have shared your disappointment and concern for the current OLMA students. We recognize that this closure has created a stressful situation for the families, especially for the parents of our non-graduating students who must now find a different high school to attend next year. OLMA is committed to assisting the families of current Mercy students with finding other Catholic schools within the area for their daughters to attend next school year.
As many of you are aware, all area schools have already been contacted and have pledged their support to accept transfer students. On Monday, January 29, 2024, OLMA hosted a Catholic High School Fair to assist families in making the best decision for their daughters.
There are roughly fifty employees who work tirelessly to guide and educate our Mercy girls. Their continued efforts through the end of the year are going to be vital to the success of this transition. We stand ready to assist all employees in finding employment elsewhere and transition to the next step in their professional lives. The other Catholic Schools have been supportive of our faculty and staff to help make this transition as smooth as possible.
What is clear from the messages we have read is how many lives Mercy has changed, the positive effect it has had on the students and the Syosset and Long Island communities, and the understanding of the importance of both Catholic and all-girl educational institutions.
The Venerable Catherine McAuley taught us, “We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us.” While we commend every Mercy girl and community member who desires and has taken actions to keep OLMA open, we encourage you to continue to keep us in your prayers during this final academic year.
As we look ahead to the next few months, we are committed to the Mercy traditions that make us who we are. Together as a community, we will celebrate our students at all events and ceremonies to commemorate this final year in a special way.
Although OLMA will no longer be providing Catholic education, there are no plans to sell or repurpose the property.
OLMA is not a diocesan school, and the Diocese of Rockville Centre is not involved with the operations of OLMA, nor did it play any role in the decision making of its closure.