O’Brien: Hales in danger of closing

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Hales Franciscan may close unless it is able to raise $300,000 by the end of the month according to Joseph Moffa, chair of the Hales Franciscan board of trustees.

“Nothing is official at this point but the situation is that we need to raise that money within the next four weeks, said Moffa.

Alumni were notified this week.

“I’m so outraged,” said Matt Humphrey, a 2008 graduate that played college basketball at Oregon, Boston College and West Virginia. “I have a masters degree. That’s not something I ever would have imagined as a kid but Hales showed me different parts of life. It made me ok in the real world. I was able to get a real job because of Hales. I put my tie on every day and I pull my pants up. I felt comfortable with that because of Hales.

Hales opened in 1962 at the intersection of Cottage Grove and 49th Street in Bronzeville. It began admitting girls last year. Until that point it was the only historically African-American, all-male Catholic high school in the state and one of three in the country. Enrollment has been less than 200 for the past several years.

“We are a small school that really has a family atmosphere,” said Hales boys basketball coach Gary London. “I literally know every kids name in the building. You just don’t get that at a larger school. A lot of parents count on Hales for an affordable Catholic school education. We aren’t St. Ignatius or Loyola.”

Hales principal Nichole Jackson created a Go Fund Me page for the school on April 19. So far that has raised just $1,410.

“We need to fix things so that this doesn’t happen year in and year out,” said Nate Minnoy, a 2005 graduate and former Sun-Times Class A Player of the Year. “The biggest way to do that is to make sure the enrollment goes up.”

Michael Jordan donated $5 million to Hales in 2006. Jordan and his wife Juanita were honorary chairpeople of the school’s fundraising campaign.

The school has been a basketball powerhouse for the past two decades, winning state championships in 2003, 2005 and 2011. London took over the program in 2001 and estimates more than 50 of his players have gone on to play college basketball.

“There is a lot of pride at Hales,” said Humphrey. “Every man I run in to that went to Hales has a swagger about him. It’s time for guys like myself that reaped the benefits of Hales to get involved. If they want to get people off the streets and change Chicago and stop people from killing each other how about we help this all-black, all-boys school? Let people know that it is ok to live in Chicago.”

RECENT HALES DIVISION I PLAYERS

Player, school signed with

Jamie Adams, Florida A&M

Eddie Alcantara, Western Kentucky

Aaric Armstead, NIU

Aaron Armstead, NIU

Josh Crittle, Oregon

Jerod Haynes, Idaho

Matt Humphrey, Oregon

JaVale McGee, Nevada

Patrick Miller, Tennessee State

Nate Minnoy, Purdue

Jerome Randle, California

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