Celebrating Catholic Schools Week

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Today’s photo, courtesy Karen Halverson, is the 2nd grade class at Holy Angels School in West Bend in June 1941.

The picture is in celebration of Catholic Schools Week. As the parochial schools take part in festivities many in the community will be reflecting on their days spent in the classrooms where Mass was a regular part of the school day and nuns ruled the roost.

Below are some memories from Catholic School graduates in the area.

Dave Wolf of West Bend attended Holy Angels in the 1950s. “All grades had two classes and all except one sixth grade class (Mr. McElroy) were taught by Notre Dame nuns. Having 50-60 students to a room was typical. Sister Alphonsine came to each class once a week for music lessons which included Gregorian chant! Sister Mark ran a candy store in the basement where we could buy snacks during recess. At the end of the day there was a Victrola in the lobby and marching music was played as we departed.”

John Steffes attended Holy Family School in Whitefish Bay. “Since every sister had to adopt a male Saint’s name, you got some unique names for the nuns. With Sister Jeremiah, everyone sang ‘Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine…’ Sister Jeremiah required you to sing with a mouth open wide enough that she could put her fist inside it.”

Judy (Johnson) Holzmann attended St. Frances Cabrini in the 1970s. “We regularly attended Mass in the mornings, and in the early days, if you didn’t have a veil you had to wear a handkerchief on your head! Sister Suzanne Marie, our 2nd grade teacher, was my all-time favorite; she was young and so kind and reminded me of the Singing Nun.”

Dave Fellenz attended Holy Angels from 1965 to 1972. “When I graduated erasers were still clapped outside and there were still a few nuns in full habit. The older nuns were strict. Some of their discipline methods would be frowned upon today, but I look back and wouldn’t have wanted it any different.”

Fellenz said the dress code did not allow for jeans or tennis shoes. “We would run around during recess in dress pants and hard shoes. During lunch, we were able to buy small cartons of milk – white milk was a penny and chocolate cost 3 cents. There was hot lunch every now and then, for special occasions, which consisted of a sloppy joe sandwich, chips and milk. The best day of the school year was Valentine Day. Games, hot lunch, and prizes, it was always a great day.”

Fellenz also had a classic recollection of Catholic school saying “if we got caught chewing gum in school we had to give 5 cents to the Pagan babies.”

Mary Jane Albinger graduated in 1969 from Holy Angels. Three generations of Albinger’s graduated Holy Angels School. Mary Jane attended from first to eighth grade as there was no kindergarten class at that time. “One of the fondest memories is of the Valentine’s party,” said Albinger. “In the morning half the grades would attend a movie and the other half would be allowed to play picnic-type games. Then in the afternoon the grades would switch,” she said. “Prior to the addition of the school the older section had a slide that was used as a fire escape, this would be opened for the Valentines party and we could slide down for five or 10 cents.”

Darold Hoelz of West Bend described himself as a “country kid in the class of 1944.” Hoelz went to Rockfield Public School No.4 near Germantown. “It was a one-room school house with 42 kids, eight grades and one teacher,” he said.

Photo courtesy Karen Halverson – You Know You Are From West Bend If….


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