Saturday, June 14, 2003

Innovative Jewish high school closing next year

The Associated Press

BEACHWOOD, Ohio - An innovative Jewish high school that encompassed major movements within Judaism said farewell to most students Friday and closed its doors to all but incoming seniors.

The Pardes School never established itself amid competition from high-quality public and private schools in the eastern Cleveland suburbs where the area's Jewish population is concentrated, the head of the school said.

While trying to encompass Orthodox, Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, "It didn't appeal to any one segment of the community in a significant way," said Jennifer Miller, head of the school.

Enrollment at the 4-year-old school had peaked at 24 and dropped this year to 22. Miller said the school needed 75 to survive.

"It's definitely bittersweet," Miller said Friday amid the bustle of the final day of classes. The day included prayers for ninth- and 10th-graders who must enroll elsewhere. The 12th grade will remain open for one year to allow seven incoming seniors to graduate.

Miller said good schools in the upscale suburban Cleveland area, including Beachwood High School, honored with a Blue Ribbon excellence award from the U.S. Department of Education, limited the appeal of Pardes.

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