CHICAGO (CBS) — A Catholic high school in the western suburbs, know for its stellar basketball program, is closing its doors at the end of the school year.

St. Joseph’s High School, located in Westchester, sent a letter to alumni regarding the decision, saying it was a “difficult” decision, adding that the COVID pandemic had a “severe” financial impact on many parents as well as declining enrollment.

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“The Board of Directors has reluctantly made the recommendation to the Christian Brothers to cease operation of St. Joseph High School at the conclusion of the current academic year. After a comprehensive review by the leadership council of the Christian Brothers, the recommendation of our Board was accepted,” said  St. Joseph’s principal David Hotek.

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“I want to personally thank you for all that you have done for St. Joseph High School. You are the heart of this great school. It is through your efforts and generosity that St. Joe’s has been able to touch the lives of so many Chargers over the past 61 years,” said Hotek. “I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Please keep all our St. Joseph High School family in your prayers as well.”

The school was a noted basketball powerhouse, where NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas attended. He played for coaching legend Gene Pingatore, considered the winningest boys high school basketball coach in Illinois state history (Pingatore was profiled in the acclaimed 1994 documentary “Hoop Dreams,” and died in 2019 at the age of 82, according to CBS Sports.)

Pingatore helped to bring two state championships to St. Joseph’s in 1999 and 2015.

According to ESPN Classic, Thomas “as a junior, he led St. Joseph’s to second in the state high school tournament. Recruited heavily by major colleges, Thomas chose Indiana, in part for his affinity to coach Bobby Knight and the opportunity to stay close to home.”

You can read the complete letter from St. Joseph’s principal below:

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