It might be the longest of long shots but students at Mater Dei Prep are not going down without a fight. 


A sign at in the St. Mary’s Elementary School Gym showing support for Mater Dei (Scott Stump, Townsquare Media NJ)

Less than three days after it was announced the high school in Middletown would close at the end of the current school year the battle of keep it open has begun.  A plethora of fundraising programs are underway or being discussed and support has come far and wide with NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams (Class of 1977) saying he would be interested in any attempt to save the school. 

Parish and school officials announced the closing earlier in the week saying they faced a $1 million deficit for the current school year.  It would seem the biggest obstacle is not just raising money to keep Mater Dei open now but address the future which would appear to be bleak from a financial standpoint.  What appears to have irked students and alumni the most was there was no advance warning that the situation was so desperate that closing was a likely possibility.

Wednesday students reported to the cafeteria and took part in a sit-in to protest the closing while some of their parents were plotting methods to raise money.  So far they’ve collected about $6000 which is a long way from a million but don’t tell them it can’t be done. 

When you think about what National Signing Day has become it is quoting someone else, “further proof that the Apocalypse has arrived.”  17 and 18-year old football players are courted like kings to get their signature on a letter of intent to attend a particular college.  In some cases it’s the end of a 2 or 3 year process in which coaches do everything short of begging to get the quarterback, running back or linebacker they need. 

Signing day at Barnegat High School: (Front row L-R) Manny Bowen (Penn State), Xavier Young (Stonehill), Cinjun Erskine (Bucknell), Sam Madden (Georgia) (Back row L-R) head coach Rob Davis and Kevin Williams (Townsquare Media NJ)

It was not quite like that for Shore Conference athletes, many of whom made their plans official yesterday.  I started my day at Barnegat High School which was a mini-celebration for their “Fab 4” of Sam Madden, Manny Bowen, Cinjun Erskine and Xavier Young.  It was smiles all around for the athletes who are headed to Georgia, Penn State, Bucknell and Stonehill.  The biggest smiles came from Moms and Dads; college is now taken care of.   

Complete signing day coverage including pictures is available at