By Tanya Connor
WEBSTER – St. Louis and St. Anne Elementary Schools each closed a chapter in their history with meaning and memories, focusing on God and
recognizing companions on the journey.
The observances surrounded the last separate
graduations. Next fall the two schools combine
to form All Saints Academy.
St. Louis fills time capsule
On June 10 St. Louis students filled a time capsule for Bishop McManus to lock before he celebrated the end-of-school Mass. Eighth-graders and an octogenarian received diploma-like certificates and clergy and religious were given paintings of the school building.
“St. Louis is like a family to me, we do everything together … and I know if I needed anything I could go to anyone there,” fourth-grader Audrey DeFilippo said in an essay. She said she likes each of her classmates and has been with most of them since kindergarten.
Audrey was one of three contest winners, who read their essays aloud and placed them in the time capsule.
Another winner, fifth-grader Victoria Velasquez, said she came to St. Louis last January.
“This is my first time in private school, but if I had to choose St. Anne’s, St. Joseph’s, or St. Louis, I would choose St. Louis,” she said.
“[T]his school is a family no matter what and I hope we still will be when this school becomes All Saints Academy.”
“As far back as I can remember, I have always loved St. Louis School,” said fourth-grader Joshua Mobley, another winner. As a 3-year-old, he said he was “bringing my big brother, Jacob, to kindergarten” and counting students’ lunch money. He told about enjoying reading, math and science over the years, and thanked his teachers and others by name.
Students placed memorabilia in the capsule, as did Sister Janet Provost, a Sister of St. Joseph who graduated from St. Louis High School in 1957. (The high school has since closed.)
The Parent Teacher Friends Association suggested the time capsule ceremony, and Nichole Mailloux-Guinto, chairwoman, coordinated it. P.T.F.A. member Brian Betty helped Bishop McManus lock the capsule.
The keys were given to David Grenier, principal of both St. Louis and St. Anne schools, and Father William F. Sanders, pastor of St. Louis Parish. The capsule is to be displayed on the St. Louis campus and not opened for 25 years, Mrs. Mailloux-Guinto said.
“Today we celebrate the memories and family that we have created together at St. Louis,” said the introduction at Mass, which seventh-grader Maria Holland read. “We also come together to recognize our eighth-grade graduates.”
Bishop McManus said the school existed to provide an excellent Catholic education and expressed thanks that a new school is coming to continue what St. Louis has done. He preached about Jesus being the light and told students that their faith should help them so much that they want to share it. Religious sisters shared their knowledge with students, who went into the world and shared it, he said.
Students eagerly sang songs, including, “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let it Shine.”
Eighth-graders Catherine Finamore, who’s had perfect attendance since kindergarten, and Luke Spring, who came to the school a couple years ago, read a Communion meditation and received graduation certificates.
Also receiving a diploma-like certificate was Father John F. Gee, 88, pastor of North American Martyrs Parish in Auburn, who graduated from St. Louis High School in 1945. He received a copy of art teacher Beth Crowley’s painting of the school building, as did Bishop McManus, Father Sanders and the Sisters of St. Joseph. The bishop also got an All Saints Academy shirt.
“It was a wonderful day, kind of nostalgic,” said Sister Janet, as she mingled at the reception. “I got to see some of my classmates.”
“We went all through the school today,” said Sister Frances Barry, who entered the Sisters of St. Joseph right after graduating from St. Louis High School in 1946. “The floors are still the same. They’ve done a wonderful job.”
“We have a proud history here,” said Sister Lillian Reilly. She said 254 members of their congregation taught here from the opening of the school in 1882 until the last sister left several years ago.
“It’s sad to see our Catholic schools shrinking,” she said. “It’s a different time.”
Danielle Maglich was thinking about how the changes will affect her children. Isabella will enter seventh grade at the other campus – St. Anne’s. Lillian will now be the older sibling at the St. Louis’ campus; she’ll be in fourth grade and her brother Charles will be in kindergarten.
“They all seemed to do well with the merging of athletics” this year, their mother said. Other joint activities also helped students from the two schools get to know each other. She said efforts were made to get people thinking, “We’re not two, but one.”
St. Anne’s closes out year with some fun
St. Anne’s 11 eighth-graders spent some of their last moments as a class racing around town on a scavenger hunt, participating in a graduation Mass and ceremony, and reminiscing with a PowerPoint presentation.
A carnival – something new for the school – was held June 14 to acknowledge the closing and to bring people together, said Father Adam Reid, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus, the school’s parish.
He said the idea was to close “with a very upbeat tone.” Referring to the merging of the two schools, he added, “We’re giving rise to something that is going to be very meaningful and very positive in Catholic education.”
Tuesday’s event included games, prizes, recognitions and a line of people that wended its way throughout the school building to pray the Our Father together. The school’s heritage was acknowledged, as were two of the retiring teachers, Christine Laporte and Eleanor Tremblay, and Sister Constance Bayeur, a Sister of St. Anne. A plaque was presented to Sister Constance to proclaim her impact as principal there for 42 years, before she retired last year. The plaque is to remain on the St. Anne’s campus. At an earlier celebration, Sister Constance received a similar plaque to keep.
After concelebrating St. Louis Elementary School’s Mass Friday, Father Reid went to meet St. Anne’s eighth-graders who were participating in a class scavenger hunt around town. Three competing teams arrived nearly simultaneously at Sacred Heart’s rectory, a stop on their hunt route.
Father Reid gave them yet another lesson: it’s important to know how to find things in Scripture. He said their clue was a verse in a white Bible. (The verse mentioned the house of Andrew. The scavenger hunt included at stop at the home of eighth-grader Andrew Raps, whose mother, Cindy Raps, is a teacher at the school.)
The students raced through the rectory and were soon crowded in a tiny bathroom, where they’d balanced the big book on a sink. They quickly found their clue and were off.
The eighth-graders received more spiritual lessons at the graduation Mass, where Father Reid told them, “I challenge you all to use your God-given gifts that have been further developed at St. Anne School. …
“I challenge you to seek after happiness … You cannot find true happiness here unless you fall in love with the Lord. And this is the kind of happiness that keeps you going” in times of celebration and difficulty. Father Reid applied this to people in the day’s Scripture readings.
He noted that this would be St. Anne’s last graduating class, and said usually that would be a sad occasion, but in this case they look forward to the opening of All Saints Academy.
At the graduation after Mass the eighth-graders received diploma-like certificates, awards and scholarships. David Grenier, principal of both St. Anne’s and St. Louis this year, thanked the faculty, staff, families and others. He told those no longer involved in the school that they can always come back.
Graduates were already going back – in time, that is – as they laughed and pointed at photos of their years at St. Anne’s, displayed in a PowerPoint presentation at the reception. Photos of graduates were also attached to balloons above tables laden with food. And boxes formed by four framed photos had been made for each graduate.
Lisa Livsey had a lot to do with this. Seventh-graders’ parents put on the graduation reception, she said. She said one of her sons graduated from St. Anne’s in 2014 and one is in what will be All Saints Academy’s first graduating class.
“The biggest thing has been the support of the families and the pastors and the superintendent’s office and the bishop,” Mr. Grenier said of the process to merge the schools.
“The kids have been great,” he said; they help make the move. They’ve come to know each other through this year’s combined sports program. Seeing them play in various places, parents of potential students for the new school have learned about it.