Students share heartbreak over closing of American Hebrew Academy

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Staff at the American Hebrew Academy spent their Wednesday afternoon packing up.

The prestigious boarding school is now closed after nearly 20 years.

Current students are now speaking out and sharing their heartbreak.

"All of the sudden, this one girl, she just screamed and started crying. She was like, 'Oh my god,'" Alex Frame said.

Frame is on the rising junior's class trip to Israel.

That scream set off a chain reaction of emotions for students on the trip, when they saw the email saying their school was closing.

"It was a domino effect from there of everyone just calling and crying to their parents," Frame says.

Frame spoke with FOX8 Wednesday afternoon from Israel to share how the American Hebrew Academy changed his life.

"Those were the best two years of my life and I was expecting two more. This was just sort of out of the blue," he said.

But some students knew the school struggled financially and with enrollment.

"We knew it was unstable, but we didn't think it would close this year. We thought if anything, it would close in the next 10 years, next 15 years," said Charlie Kapustin, a rising senior at the academy.

According to the school's 2016 tax filing, expenses topped $18 million but the revenue was just shy of $5 million.

Donations that year dropped from nearly $3 million to less than half a million.

The school tried to stay afloat by accepting international students from Asia.

Kapustin tells FOX8, when that happened, some students suddenly withdrew.

"The reason that some kids dis-enrolled is because of the non-Jewish kids coming to the academy," he explains. "Their parents are paying a lot of money for their kids to be at a Jewish school exclusively."

He thinks that was the final straw.

But Kapustin is thankful that others are trying to support him and his classmates in this difficult time.

"I know other schools, other Jewish schools, are setting up partnerships for the like AHA Refugees," Kapustin said. "Their stretching their hands out to our school. They feel our pain and that's precious."

FOX8 made several calls to the academy's CEO throughout the day on Wednesday, but as of airtime, have not heard back.

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