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‘A very sad day’: Matignon alumni react to news of closure

After 75 years, The Cambridge Matignon School is closing in June. Banners at the school celebrate the milestone.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Alumni of The Cambridge Matignon School expressed sadness and shock that their alma mater will close in June after 75 years, but said they will never forget their cherished high school memories, friends, and teachers.

“It’s a very sad day for a lot of us,” said Bob Emery, a member of the class of 1982 who won three state championships as a member of the school’s hockey team.

Emery, now the director of men’s ice hockey operations at Merrimack College in North Andover, said he learned a lot while at Matignon — but not just from the textbooks.

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“I learned a lot about respect. I learned about treating people right. I learned about a lot of things, about morality,” said Emery, 59, of Hampton, N.H. “And it’s a shame that a lot of other kids that live in that area now aren’t going to get that.”

For many, the news was a surprise.

“I knew nothing,” said Suzanne Rosenberg, who graduated in 1994, of Framingham, whose parents are also alumni. “I was completely blindsided, and the way I found out was [through] one of my classmates and her son is a senior there, so she got word of it first and sent it to me and I’m like, ‘Is this a joke?’ and she’s like, ‘No, not at all.”

For Susan Swirbalus, a member of the class of 1976, her time at Matignon was “the happiest time of my life,” she said. Even today, her best friends are still the ones who were in her class.

“My love for the school, it just runs so deep,” Swirbalus, 65, of Quincy, said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “When we were back at school, you didn’t even want to miss school [or] stay home sick. It was just a wonderful, wonderful atmosphere.”

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When she heard about the school closing, she was shocked, especially because she didn’t know it was coming.

“To say that I’m disappointed doesn’t even begin to tell you how I really feel,” she said. “They just announced it was closing, and I just don’t know why.”

She said she wished that if Matignon’s financial situation were dire, the school would have reached out to alumni, who likely would have “banded together” to raise the funds needed.

Cambridge City Councilor Paul Toner, who graduated from Matignon in 1984, said he was saddened to hear about the closure.

“As a graduate of Matignon and someone who lives in the same neighborhood it is incredibly [sad] to see such a great local institution close,” Toner said in a statement. “There are a lot of memories and history tied up with [the] school and I know that the current students and alumni are sorry to see it close after 75 years of providing many generations with an excellent Catholic education.”

Carolyn Sapochetti, who graduated in 1988, said that hearing about the closure was sad, especially given all of the recent news of other Catholic schools closing in Brighton, Fall River and Newton.

“It’s a shame,” said Sapochetti, 52, of Saugus, whose father, sister, and brother also went to Matignon. “You’re seeing too many of the Catholic schools, whether it be elementary or high school, closing and, unfortunately, the archdiocese can’t contribute to help to save them.”

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Paul Halloran, 59, of Lynn, said the closure is particularly devastating for the staff too.

“There’s a lot of hard-working well-intentioned people there who I’m sure are devastated,” said Halloran, a graduate of the Class of 1981, who coached the school’s baseball team from 1993 to 1996. “We all should be devastated — faculty that are losing their jobs, and the kids in grades nine, 10, [and] 11 who have to find someplace else to go next year.”

Tonya Alanez of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.


Matt Yan can be reached at matt.yan@globe.com. Follow him @matt_yan12.