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Nearly one in four graduates of top independent all-girls' high schools plans to major in mathematics, science, or engineering in college, according to a new survey. Nationally, only 6 percent of all women in college choose those majors, according to the U.S. Education Department.

The survey by the Coalition of Girls' Schools demonstrates that girls in single-sex high schools are more likely to take advanced classes in math and science than girls in coeducational schools, said Arlene Gibson, president of the coalition, a group of top independent all-girls' day and boarding schools.

The survey of 1,000 seniors found that 18 percent plan to major in the sciences, while 5 percent planned to major in mathematics or engineering. Seventeen percent said they want to become physicians, 14 percent want to be teachers, and 13 percent want to be lawyers.

The Laurel School of Shaker Heights, Ohio, has received a hefty gift for its scholarship program: a $2 million bequest from the estate of an alumna, Harriet Buescher Lawrence.

Ms. Lawrence, a 1930 graduate of the all-girls school, died in January at age 77. Her gift is the largest sum the school has ever received, officials said.

Laurel was founded in 1896 and has an enrollment of about 550 girls.

St. Nicholas of Tolentine High School in the Bronx, N.Y., which has gained acclaim both for its successful college-going rate and its stellar athletic achievements in recent years, will close at the end of this year, officials announced.

The school faced the twin challenges of declining enrollment and mounting deficits, and it is one of five schools in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York that is expected to shut their doors in June.

St. Nicholas has 330 students in grades 9 through 12, less than half of its enrollment of about 20 years ago.

The school faced a $300,000 deficit this year, which could grow to $1 million within five years, school officials said.

The school's troubles became critical at a time when the archdiocese was planning to cut in half the $20 million in subsidies it has provided in past years to struggling Catholic schools.

The school won Catholic high school league championships in 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1988, and finished in the top spot in the USA Today boys' basketball poll in 1988.

The school, which serves an ethnically diverse Catholic parish in the University Heights section of the Bronx, also was noted for sending approximately 85 percent of its students on to postsecondary education.--mw

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