I have a good friend named Donna Parish from Masontown. For many years she has belonged to All Saints Church (the new Saint Francis of Assisi) and taught kindergarten in the school until retirement. She was/is an excellent teacher. Donna is, like many in the area, very upset about the changes in parish life and the closing of All Saints School.
The other day on her FB page she did something very nice. She asked those who attended or who had ties to the school, which has been in operation since 1911, to share their stories and memories. Hard as it is to see the school close, this is the way to celebrate the blessings of these years. As of today, there were thirty-three beautiful comments shared. I would like to honor the history of All Saints School with a few of those comments (the authors will remain anonymous). The annual bazaar on Labor Day weekend was mentioned by many as a way of staying in touch with friends, the Christmas pageants, Halloween parades through town, scrabble tournaments, basketball games in the old gym, and school picnics in the park. Many recalled the school masses, prayer times and May Crownings. Rose in the cafeteria was remembered, as well as pizza, bread sticks, the juice machine and chocolate cake with peanut butter icing. The big brothers and sisters program - one person said "My boys still remember their big brothers and the little ones they were big brothers to!"
But comments like "The teachers were awesome!" and mention of some of the excellent teachers like Donna herself in Kindergarten, Ed Rockwell, Sisters Asumta, Rosaire, Mildred and Barbara are what is the greatest tribute. Staff members like Mrs. Burns and Jim and Cliff and Rose are remembered. One person said "When I went to Albert Gallatin after graduating from sixth grade, I had not only the educational background I needed to succeed, but also the morals to shape me into a polite young lady. All Saints is to thank for that." Another said "My favorite memories are some of the amazing teachers I had that set the stonework for my education." Another one said "It was so much more than a school, we were a community. We all knew each others names, the parents looked after all of us like we were their own. It was definitely something special that I have not been a part of since." "All Saints was very special, it created friendships that will last a lifetime" said another. To sum up, a person said that his memory will always be the "good times we had. God bless us all." Amen to that.
I was always impressed with the periodic school reunions that All Saints/Kolb High school planned over the years. They were days of positive remembering of great experiences of Catholic Education. My hope is that the alumni of All Saints Grade School will always be grateful for the blessings received and in the future celebrate in the way of the high school family.
It is never easy to say goodbye to something that is important to you and that you have loved. Educationally I have seen my grade school close (opened in 1907), high school (opened in 1847), minor seminary residence (1962), college seminary (?), major seminary (?). It is always sad, but life continues, and the foundation set by those schools has served me well. For that I am grateful. I will pray for the All Saints school community, past and present, and I ask that you do so as well.