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Visitation Academy to close June 30

By George P. Matysek Jr.
Twitter: @ReviewMatysek
Visitation Academy, a storied Catholic school in Frederick that has operated since 1846, will close June 30.
Mark Matan, chairman of the independent Catholic school’s board of directors, made the announcement in a June 17 letter to parents and guardians, citing low enrollment and an unsustainable economic model.
“The rising costs of operating the school, low enrollment, a challenging economic environment and the continued impact of the departure of the Visitation Sisters over nine years ago have proven to be insurmountable challenges for our school,” Matan wrote. “The cost to deliver the level of service that has come to be expected at the academy has dramatically outpaced what the market is willing to bear.”
Sean Caine, communications director for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, told the Catholic Review that the pre-K-8 all girls’ school had an enrollment of 89 for the coming school year.
According to previous reports in the Catholic Review, the Visitation Sisters, who founded the school, left in 2005 when their cloistered on-campus monastery was closed. Enrollment at the time of their departure was 180. Enrollment stood at 142 in 2009. Since the sisters’ departure, the school has been operated by an independent board.
Visitation Academy operated a boarding school until 2005, attracting students from several countries around the world. In the latter years of its operation, the boarding school had 40 students from Mexico.
Matan, who could not be reached for comment, noted in his letter that representatives of the archdiocese will join administrators from Visitation Academy June 23 at 6 p.m. in the school library to answer questions about how parents can enroll their children in other area Catholic schools.
Visitation Academy’s roots go back to 1824, when the Sisters of Charity began St. John’s Benevolent Female Free School. Visitation Sisters from Washington, D.C. arrived in 1846 to take over operation of the boarding school, which would become Visitation Academy.
During the Civil War, Visitation Academy served as General Hospital No. 5, where numerous amputations were performed following the Battle of Antietam. The Visitation Sisters took in 60 stranded students at their monastery, continuing their education throughout the war. According to a 2012 article in the Catholic Review, Visitation Academy was the only school in the city of Frederick that continued to teach during the Civil War.

“I want to remind everyone of the incredible sacrifices and efforts the Visitation Sisters, administrators, staff and faculty have made over the years,  Matan said. “This is evident in the hundreds of young women who have passed through our gates and have left a positive footprint on our society.”

Also see:

Visitation Academy remembers Battle of Antietam