Bishop Byrne School To Close

By Bill Dries

The Memphis Catholic Diocese will close Bishop Byrne High School in Whitehaven at the end of the current school year.

Memphis Catholic Schools superintendent Janet Donato announced the closing Thursday, Jan. 24, as she also announced plans to attract many of the 170 students from Bishop Byrne to Memphis Catholic Middle and High School in Midtown.

Donato said the school system plans to expand courses and technology as well as sports programs on the Memphis Catholic campus.

Bishop Byrne opened as a grade 9-12 high school in 1965 when Whitehaven was still part of the unincorporated county. The high school grew to several hundred students as Whitehaven grew. The school also benefited from an early ‘70s consolidation of Catholic schools and racial integration efforts that incorporated students from the old Father Bertrand High School.

But Donato said in recent years attendance has declined at Bishop Byrne which led to the closing of a grade school at nearby St. Paul Catholic Church to boost enrollment at Bishop Byrne.

Bishop Byrne faculty and staff were told of the closing during a meeting on campus at the end of the school day.

Catholic High has grown in recent years after it revamped its curriculum to an “Education That Works” program in which students spend part of several school days a week working at sponsoring businesses.

Donato and Catholic High principal Nick Green said the program will continue as the school expands.