GIRARD - It wasn't just one day, but three days of celebrating 100 years of Catholic education at St. Rose School.
With banners on the walls in the school's hallway indicating "St. Rose School 100 years of strengthening our roots" students, staff, alumni and the community came together this weekend to mark the milestone for one of the largest Catholic schools in Trumbull County.
The school held a pep rally Thursday with proclamations received from city and county officials. On Friday, a luncheon was held with former teachers and the current eighth graders and staff. And on Sunday, there were tours of the school, a Mass with Bishop George V. Murry and dinner at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Youngstown.
Sister Eleanor Santangelo, center, who taught at St. Rose School in Girard, looks over some displays and photos of the school, which is marking its 100th anniversary. With her are eighth-graders Tess Rubinic, left, and Amanda Leon. On Friday, former teachers had lunch with the 35 eighth-graders who will be the school’s 100th graduating class. Photo by Bob Coupland
School principal Linda Borton said the eighth-graders are proud to be the 100th graduating class.
''That is a distinction and honor that they will always carry with them,'' she said.
The school houses more than 250 students with 17 teachers. Students are from Girard, McDonald, Niles, Liberty, Vienna, Weathersfield, Austintown and the Youngstown-Campbell areas.
Jan. 4, 1914 - Two-story yellow brick school is dedicated
1940s - A formal athletic program began
April 4, 1957 - A new 17-room three-floor building with a convent was dedicated
1960s - Enrollment peaked with 1,115 students
September 1974 - First all-day kindergarten began
September 2011 - children's playground dedicated
September 2012 - new roof installed
Source: St. Rose School anniversary committee
Monsignor John Zuraw of St. Rose Parish said 100 years is an important milestone.
"It is important that we are not only celebrating 100 years as a school but we are celebrating all the individuals who have been part of our past, part of the present and will be, more importantly, part of the future,'' he said.
Girard Mayor Jim Melfi, a St. Rose alumnus, and Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda presented proclamations to the school, noting it is one of the largest Catholic schools in Trumbull County.
"I am proud to say I am someone who was a student at St. Rose,'' Melfi said.
"This school has a long history and a distinguished record of quality education for its students," Fuda said.
Though the land had been purchased in 1888, it wasn't until March 1913 that the Rev. Edward Kirby, pastor of St. Rose Parish, asked Bishop Farrelly of the Diocese of Cleveland for permission to build a parish school.
The two-story school with eight classrooms on East Main Street cost $15,000 and was dedicated in January 1914. Its first graduating class numbered eight students.
"It was a model school for its time," Melfi said.
Additional remodeling continued with a new three-floor school opened in 1957. The school's gymnasium is one of the largest in the diocese.
Murry led a special Mass on Sunday praising all who have made the school's 100 years possible.
''The 100th anniversary both looks back and looks forward. It looks back over 100 years of success and it promises a bright future for 100 years going forward. St Rose School is all about teaching young people about God and the world and the self,'' Murry said.
The Ursuline sisters have taught at the school since it opened. And many of the sisters, who were teachers, along with other teachers returned Friday for a special luncheon with the current 35 eighth-graders. The also took the time to reflect on their time at the school. Almost to a person, they commented about how important parents were in their children's education and how much they enjoyed teaching there.
"It was a wonderful time to teach here. The parents and grandparents were all involved at the school,'' said Sister Charlotte Italiano, who taught from 1958 to 1961
Sister Janice Kusick who taught from 1958 to 1960, agreed.
"They were wonderful and very interested in their children's education,'' she said.
Marcia Kolovich, a teacher from 1958 to 1961, said it was the best experience of her teaching career.
"It was the best teaching experience I could have ever had. The students were very receptive. I learned a lot as I grew with them. I was only 18 when I started teaching. It is great school and I am glad to be part of its history," she said.
Sister Eleanor Santangelo, who taught religion and math for seventh and eighth grades, said "The students were great. I enjoyed my 11 years here.''
Amanda Leone, an eighth-grader, said she was excited when her class was told former teachers would be attending to share their memories.
"I liked meeting them. It's great to be the 100th graduating class," Leone said.
Mary Ellen Britt, chairwoman of the committee planning the anniversary, said she was very happy with the turnout at all the events.
She was able to get old photos of the school over the years and created six backboard displays highlighting school activities.
Kathy O'Connor Sauline, who was principal at the school in the 2000s, was a student at St. Rose, as were her daughters, father and grandfather.
''I am from a family with a long connection to the school. It really is one of the best schools to attend,'' she said.