When you talk about generations, St. Aloysius Parish School has got it covered – multiple generations of students, faculty and parents that have kept the school going strong for more than a century.
The Roman Catholic school, located at 14607 Bluffton Road in Yoder, celebrated its 140th anniversary on October 16 with an Open House for faculty, students, former faculty and student, and the public.
Lasting from 8 a.m. to about 1 p.m. that afternoon, the event was mostly celebratory, but also showed off the school’s proud traditions and new renovations.
Tina Voors, principal of the Kindergarten through 8th grade facility, said her school is the oldest continuously running school in the 43-school Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese. To help students understand the significance of the anniversary, Voors has been reading them a piece of the school’s storied history each day.
The school, which currently has 108 students, first opened in 1876 and was just a small-frame building, used for classes only two or three months a year. The edifice was mostly to prepare children for their first Holy Communion. In fact, when Father Ferdinand opened the place he had just 38 pupils.
In 1879, Joseph Kenning became the school’s teacher, to be followed by Robert Gruber. Not long after, the Diocese contracted with the Sisters of St. Agnes of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin to teach there. From that group, Sister Mary Lucilla was the first religious principal.
The Sunday Open House offered masses for visitors throughout the day. And after each mass, folks could mill around the building to see what was new and to revisit some of the old traditions still present.
For instance, while each and every classroom still has trusty old bookshelves stocked with volume upon volume, each one also has several high-tech computers for student use.
Visitors were also greeted with old class pictures – which are taken of the entire school every year – and brightly decorated bulletin boards down every hallway. One board offered cut-out paper leaves with kids’ handwritten expressions about what they loved about their school. “All my friends are here!” exclaimed one student leaf.
There was also the newly-painted playground equipment and the freshly-painted map of the United States on the playground blacktop, the result of a former student’s Eagle Scout project.
Voors, who with 32-year veteran secretary Sue Frauenfelder, are the school’s entire administration. They said the event was a good one for current-and past-students, families and teachers.
“This just lets people see how much we’ve grown,” said Voors, a former German teacher at DeKalb High School, “but also how we’re very much the same.”