Though St. Joseph’s school in Grand Falls-Windsor closed its doors 1975 and was torn down shortly thereafter, the spirit of friendship among classmates is still standing strong.
Over the weekend, former students of St. Joseph’s relived their school days, and proved that years between time spent with old friends was nothing but a number at the St. Joseph’s School Reunion 2012.
From Thursday to Sunday over 400 people, including former students and teachers as well as and their spouses and children, participated in a weekend of fun events to commemorate the Catholic school that was a community corner stone for so many years.
“There were people that hadn’t seen each other for 40 to 50 years,” said Peter Curran, chair of the organizing committee for the reunion. “It was amazing, in the matter of a half hour it’s like they went back to that age and celebrated. It felt like everyone went back to their second childhood, they were having such a good time.”
According to the executive planning committee, over a year of fundraising, researching, planning, and restoration culminated into an unforgettable weekend for everyone in attendance.
“When we started this we didn’t know exactly what to do, but we took it step-by-step and this is what happened,” said committee co-chair Mary Chow. “It was a lot of fundraising, but we just did one thing at a time…and we just put it all together.”
From restoring the garden behind St. Joseph’s Parish Hall to it’s former glory – a new paint job, new gates, signs, and landscaping – for Sunday’s garden party, to obtaining a giant mural of the former school, both Chow and Curran said they would have never pulled it off without many dedicated volunteers.
And it was well worth it. According to Curran, all the events, which included a wine and cheese, a hot roast beef dinner night, a stadium party, a mass in memory of deceased students, and Sunday’s family garden party, were an outstanding success.
“Each night was unreal,” said Curran. “At the wine and cheese, which was a meet and greet, after a couple of hours it just went up and everyone was having the biggest kind of time…The next night at our sit down dinner, the first plate was as hot as the last, it only took 30 minutes to serve 400 people.”
Curran added the mass to remember late students and family members was an extremely moving service. It was dedicated to the memory of Terry Jackson, a former student who was killed at only 11 years old by a train in Grand Falls-Windsor. Several of Terry’s family members attended the event, including his sister Gale Jackson-Brown. Jackson-Brown now lives in Mount Pearl, but said she’s kept in touch with many classmates over the years. She said the service in memory of her brother was a nice touch to the weekend, and provided a sense of closure.
“The ceremony was amazing…it was just beautiful,” she said.
Talk of the town
As do all things, the trip down memory lane came to an end, but not before former students and their families had one last chance to mingle and say goodbye at Sunday’s family garden party. Sunny skies were the backdrop for the event, which took place at St. Joseph’s church hall. A bouncy castle and plenty of food entertained children while the grown-ups got a chance to chat and reflect on old photographs that lined the halls of the building, or relax in the beautiful restored grounds.
“It felt like everyone went back to their second childhood, they were having such a good time.” - –Peter Curran
“All week this reunion has been the talk of the town,” said Chow, smiling herself, as she looked at all the happy faces buzzing about the grounds.
Ed Power is a former student of St. Joseph’s, and later went on to become a teacher himself. Power told the Advertiser he’s very grateful to the organizing committee and all the volunteers for a wonderful weekend.
“The committee did a fantastic job of bringing us all together,” he said. “You don’t see very many schools have a reunion for all the years the school was here.”
Power said the weekend reunited so many old friends and created such a positive vibe around town, he hopes other schools will see the impact and follow suit.
“All the students are just so appreciative of the committee,” he said. “It was a fantastic weekend, and we really want to thank them.”
For pictures from reunion, see page A5.