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By Caitlin Mota | The Jersey Journal
BAYONNE - With two weeks left for Marist High School to reach its $1.5 million goal to remain open next year, school officials say they are shifting their fundraising strategies with help from alumni.
The Kennedy Boulevard school, which opened 62 years ago, announced last month it needed to raise big money by the end of April to avoid closing.
Head of School Alice Miesnik said the students, parents, and teachers have been working around the clock to come up with ways to shrink the school's deficit. Many students have spent their weekends canning outside local businesses while the parents' yearly casino night fundraiser was bumped up a week and changed to a tricky tray so all proceeds can go toward the "Save Marist" campaign.
But now, Miesnik said, the school is hoping the roughly 6,000 students who graduated over the past six decades will be able to keep Marist open.
"I think the faith, the belief in the campaign should be altered by this new messaging," Miesnik said while sitting in the school "quad" Tuesday morning. "People have to know that we reached out to all of the alum, all of our hall of famers, all of the organizations to which the school is affiliated, with all of our vendors. The outreach has been tremendous."
Miesnik, who has worked at Marist High School for over 30 years, said she feels the school made big progress over the weekend, with four graduates from 1965 - who she described as "professionals" - pledging to strategically plan outreach to the school's donors and alumni.
The four alumni, which the school dubs "Team 65," are also planning to develop a sustainability plan to present to the Marist Brothers when they are expected to decide the school's fate. Miesnik said the $1.5 million goal is expected to secure another three academic years.
Marist hopeful $1.5M will be raised to keep school open: 'we can do it'
Students, parents, and alumni are ready to do whatever it takes to keep the doors open at the struggling Kennedy Boulevard high school.
A Facebook ad is expected to launch this week for the remainder of the campaign and there have been "conversations" with big donors and partnerships, though nothing has been "signed, sealed, and delivered, just yet."
Marist's closing would be another devastating blow to Catholic high schools in Hudson County. Last week, St. Anthony High School in Jersey City announced it would close at the end of this year because it was unable to cut the school's multimillion dollar deficit. Only three Catholic high schools would remain, less than half the number of schools that operated 10 years ago.
"I think this place should survive because it's healthy in every other way," she said. "It's such an amazing place."
As of Tuesday afternoon, the school has raised about $145,000. The school is hosting a 12-hour dance marathon Wednesday from noon to midnight. The $12 admission price will go toward the Save Marist campaign.
The school still has a significant amount of money to raise, but Miesnik is hopeful "God will surprise" her over the next several days.
"Hope doesn't cost me a penny," she said wearing her Save Marist tshirt. "I'm going to be hopeful until they say yay or nay."