Tue May 24 12:22pm EDT
One of New York's most notable high schools is closing its doors at the end of the 2011 school year. Rice (New York) High School, one of the nation's top basketball powerhouses, made an announcement on Monday that the school no longer has the funds available to keep the school open, after enrollment and donations at the school dropped considerably in recent years.
As the New York Daily News reported, the school watched its enrollment drop a staggering 44 percent since 2003, and with a six-figure deficit, it became impossible, financially, for the Roman-Catholic school in Harlem to survive another school year.
"Economic realities have forced this painful, difficult and emotional decision," a statement read in the New York Daily News. "Rice High School has been operating at a cumulative budget deficit of millions of dollars for over a decade. The school hung on as long as it could to continue fulfilling its core mission of educating young men."
Since Rice was first established, the school has gone on to produce some top-tier basketball players, including Felipe Lopez and Kemba Walker, and was also known for having a Nike basketball shoe with the school's name on it.
Kobe Bryant teamed up with Rice High School in 2009 and named one of his versions of the Nike Zoom Kobe after Rice, even going so far as to have the shoes match the school's green and gold colors.
So what now for the players on this year's basketball team? Instead of playing basketball next season at Rice, all of the players will be forced to play elsewhere; the school has already started the transfer process of placing players from the CHSAA Class AA runners-up team at various schools in the city.
"It's sad for me because I was supposed to stay all four years," junior Kenneth Lopez told the New York Daily New. "But now that's changing."
Naturally, former players at the school have already started to voice their displeasure at the decision to close Rice, including Kemba Walker, who helped lead the University of Connecticut to a national championship this season. Walker noted that Rice helped mold him into the man he is today.
"For a lot of us, it kept us out of trouble, it helped us grow," Walker told the Daily News. "A lot of us are successful now because of Rice. It changed me."