Nov. 3, 2017 – West Bend, WI – Her hair was a bit whiter than the last time I saw her and moving around seemed to be more difficult for her, but the memories were spilling over as we shared stories about sixth grade so many years ago. Sister Jean patted my cheek as she said, “Let me look at your face.”
Standing outside the windowed black doors under the west veranda while waiting our turn to walk into St. Frances Cabrini School last Sunday brought back memories of wearing wet snow pants and mittens during cold, cold recesses and waiting for those very doors to open so we could come back inside and warm up.
There was no reprieve from frozen playtime when we were students at St. Frances Cabrini School.
The best we could do was play hard to stay warm, or hop around near the doors in hope of being first in line to get back into the building when the bell rang. The years fell away as my sisters and I – and our mother – stepped through those very doors along with several hundred other former students and parents to reminisce and celebrate the school’s 60th anniversary.
How can the years have passed so quickly?
There have been many changes to the physical plat of the school since we were students. Classrooms have been rearranged and some have been appropriated for activities other than daily academics. The old stage is gone and the former gym is reclaimed as a multi-use space and cafeteria. Library books line the walls of the old Chapel.
The bathrooms are the same as they were years ago – my sisters made certain to check – and aqua tiles still line the long corridors. Locker number 376 probably still harbors that little wooden bead I dropped behind it decades ago. I don’t suppose I will ever get it back…..
It is the shared experience of growing up and working and worshiping together in this space that brings us back with a sense of pride and no small bit of curiosity about who we have become since we left St. Frances Cabrini School.
Paging through yearbooks and poring over class photos from every one of those 60 years sparked giggles over siblings’ looks and memories of friends and hard work and fun.
“I loved school, and it is wonderful to be back at Cabrini again,” said Nancy Kruepke of Jackson, WI (’74). “One of my fondest memories is when Judy Jessup and I were picked to crown the Mother Mary in second grade.”
Katie (Mueller) Noetzel of Cedarburg, WI (’86) commented, “I could remember the music room distinctly with the painted murals of the Muppets on the blue walls and was disappointed to see those were gone and the space was repurposed.
“Walking into the library, however, was like stepping into a time capsule. How amazing to see those same tables and chairs I sat in so often during my eight years there. I enjoyed the opportunity to remember my grade school days and that time in my life when I was immersed in the Cabrini community.”
The 60 years of St. Frances Cabrini School’s existence is an accomplishment and the memories continue to be made. This year’s graduates will join the ranks of the alumni as will the classes following, each having experienced the Cabrini community of faith and learning in unique ways.
Celebration of the commitment of the parishioners and greater community will continue as well with annual bestowal of alumni awards. We will see, in a very real way, the contributions of Cabrini graduates to the greater good of the world.
The pat of Sister Jean’s hand on my cheek seemed to be a touch of the love that binds all of us together as the Cabrini family then and now. She said to me, “…we had a saying, ‘Cabrini, a good place to be.’ It really was.”
It really still is.