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DeAndreis grads maintain pride in their school

School that closed in 1976 praised for excellent Catholic education

Kenneth Boyer and his classmates still maintain pride in De Andreis High School, which closed in 1976. Sixty years later, he still teases someone who went to a different Catholic high school.

Boyer and about 50 other members of the De Andreis Class of 1958 met for a 60th reunion recently. They’ve committed to holding reunions every five years. Ruth Sansone explained why: “We feel that we are very lucky to have had some great people to go to school with and getting together to talk about old times. We thank the many Sisters of Loretto, the priests and lay teachers who helped us begin our adult lives.”

Sansone, Boyer and two other members of the class also recently met to discuss their school and the importance of their Catholic education. De Andreis opened in 1946 as an all-boys school staffed by the Brothers of Mary until 1952. It became co-educational with a faculty of Sisters of Loretto and diocesan priests. In 1965, it reverted to a male enrollment.

“It was nice and intimate, and they knew everything that went on. With that faculty you couldn’t hide,” Sansone said of her school years.

Boyer, who was class president, said “I felt at home and secure. I felt I could get my questions answered.”

Sansone agreed, “They knew you. You weren’t just somebody in the halls.”

Their discussion included the differences in education compared to today, such as having many religious and priests as teachers, diagramming sentences and studying Latin, all of which they saw as important to their formation. They also recalled one of the women religious inspecting the girls’ dresses at dances to ensure they met standards for decency, with wide shoulder straps a requirement. They all recalled Father Paul Kersgieter as an excellent educator and referred to a lay gym teacher as an ex-warden at a prison.

The archdiocese paid half of the tuition their first three years. It rose from $40 to $50, $60 to $125 a year when the archdiocesan policy changed. Tuition at a similar archdiocesan high school, Bishop DuBourg, is $10,700 today.

De Andreis, 4274 N. Clarence Ave., closed due to declining enrollment. It had 350 students in the 1975-76 school year but a 35 percent decline in freshmen enrollment. Peak enrollment was 830 students in 1954.

Sansone said parents in the past almost automatically sent their children to Catholic schools. She appreciates it. “It’s like building a building brick by brick. Every year I became more involved in the Church and what it meant to me and to my prayer life,” she said.

Jane Farroll agreed that “it was never a question in our home. They were determined we would go to a Catholic high school. I consider myself fortunate to have a Catholic education. I sure do appreciate it now.”

Boyer noted that “the fact that we sent our kids to Catholic schools, and the fact that my grandchildren are all going to Catholic schools says everything that needs to be said about it. This would be a very dark world in my mind if I didn’t have my faith. The examples set by the priests and nuns and the sacrifices — what they give up in their lives. My wife and I are so happy the kids are going to Catholic schools.”

Pat Wiese remembers being taught by a math teacher how to make rosaries. Her mother entered the Catholic Church when Wiese was a sophomore, and she presented her with a handmade rosary.

The school had a lot going for it, she said, much more than a sports program. “We lost football to Beaumont all the time, but so what?” Wiese asked.

Boyer laughed, pointing out that the team lost a lot of games. “I kept wishing our cheerleaders would quit cheering, ‘DA, DA can’t be beat’ when we were behind,’” he said.

Another memory of De Andreis was a phrase students said before each class, taken from a Loretto devotion: “Oh Suffering Jesus, Oh Sorrowful Mary.”

Class of 1958

Four members of the De Andreis Class of 1958 who reminisced about their school years and growing up in the 1950s are:

Ken Boyer, a Queen of All Saints parishioner in Oakville who grew up in St. Engelbert Parish. He taught English for 40 years in public and private high schools and for 30 of those years he also taught at St. Louis Community College.

Jane (Farishon) Farroll, a member of St. Alban Roe Parish in Wildwood, who grew up in St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Pine Lawn. She has five children, 20 grandchildren. She was a secretary to the catering manager at the Sheraton Jefferson Hotel.

Ruth (Votruba) Sansone, a parishioner at Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie who grew up in St. Paul the Apostle Parish. She worked at the Sheraton Jefferson Hotel and Mayfair Hotel as director of sales. She has seven children — “two after each reunion” her classmates reminded her — 20 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and later worked at Brentmoor Retirement Communities. She now does extensive volunteer work.

Pat Wiese, a member of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Bellefontaine Neighbors, attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish growing up. She worked 40 years for the federal government and 38 years for Dillards. She attended night school at the University of Missouri-St. Louis for 10 years, earning a degree in business. Wiese has visited all 50 states, and she’s the “Sherlock Holmes” of her class, helping find missing classmates for reunions.

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