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The Daily Times' boys basketball blog

Friday, February 24, 2012


Friday afternoon, one thought crossed Tom Meakim's mind: He needed to be at Monsignor Bonner for the big announcement.

Monsignor Bonner's basketball coach, Meakim said he was at the Catholic high school in Upper Darby Township Jan. 6. That was when the Archdiocese of Philadelphia -- based upon the urging of a Blue Ribbon Commission report -- announced that Bonner/Archbishop Prendergast and three other high schools would close due to declining enrollment, among other things. So, Meakim figured, why not be there for Friday's announcement of whether the schools' appeals would be granted?

"It was the only place to be," Meakim told Delco Hoops by phone.

In a televised news conference, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput announced that the appeals of the four high schools that had been recommended for closure were granted, meaning the doors to Bonner/Prendie would remain open. St. Hubert's Catholic School for Girls and West Catholic, in Philadelphia, as well as Conwell-Egan Catholic, in Bucks County, also were saved by the archdiocese.

"Obviously we're elated," Meakim said. "Frankly, I'm very happy for the other three schools, as well. As I've told you before, my ancestors are West Catholic people. And the other two schools, I'm happy for. I'm most happy for my players, especially the juniors. They have a chance to finish where they started."

Chaput's announcement came with a caveat: Bonner and Prendie will have to merge. The all-boys and all-girls schools, respectively, had shared the same administration for the last few years, but had done so under different roofs. That will change for the 2012-13 school year.

"That's funny you ask, but weren't not changing names," Meakim said. "The school, maybe there will be other changes down the road, but I'm not privy to that yet. I was told the Friar will be Bonner's mascot and the Panda will remain Prendie's. I'm glad those aren't changing, because our team just got new uniforms last year."

When he made it to Bonner's campus Friday, in time for the 3 p.m. announcement from the archdiocese, Meakim said he ran into three seniors from this year's team -- Paul Pfeffinger, Dan McLoone and Mike Proska. Meakim said junior Pat Vanderslice greeted him with "a big hug."

"Pat took the news Jan. 6 the hardest," said Meakim (pictured), referencing the date of the original announcement, that Bonner would close. "He's probably the most-relieved I've seen because, what he was facing was, his whole family is full of Bonner people. Where was he going to go? He'd be scored at every family party that he went to. I'm relieved he doesn't have to make that kind of decision. None (of my players) ever approached me as to what their options were because, I take it, they were very hopeful that they'd be spending next year at Bonner. And, thankfully, that's the case."

"It's been a hard seven weeks, but a hard year ever since the rumor started floating around in September," Meakim continued. "It's been a hard year for any Bonner athlete. I'm one of those people that believes there's good to come out of everything. I like the plan the school has put together for academics, and that our alumni have continued to step forward. They were a sleeping giant that got woken up."

(Times staff photos / JULIA WILKINSON)

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