Current WBHS students who attended Saint Mary’s School are saddened by its planned closure
By Kaitlyn Von Behren, Current Staff
Tears, texts, and turning stomachs. Friends messaging each other frantically. Parents reading and re-reading emails at work. The decision had been made: Saint Mary’s, their grade school, was shutting down for good.
“I never saw it coming,” said Becca Stucke, an East senior who recalled her nine years at Saint Mary’s parish and school.
Instead of continuing as a separate school, Saint Mary’s has made the decision to merge with Saint Francis Cabrini. This transition has been considered on and off since 2010, but the parish did not make the decision official until late October. Saint Mary’s, located on Jefferson Street in West Bend, is one of the oldest Catholic schools in Wisconsin.
“A lot of us knew this would come some time sooner or later. It is just sad to see it, but it had to happen,” East sophomore Nathan Geidel said.
“We [the Saint Mary’s students] were one big family,” Stucke said.
Many students have been friends from as early as preschool. Students bonded over bowling and other extra-curriculars, and remained close even after graduation.
“My parents wanted their kids to have a good education. [They] are pretty happy that they got all the kids through,” Stucke said.
“I was the youngest of four children, and my parents sent all of us there. My parents were Catholic, and we were brought up Catholic, so that’s the school we went to,” said Laurie Yahr, mother of second-generation Saint Mary’s alumnus Amber Yahr, now a senior at West.
Bullying and other misbehavior was monitored rigidly, and was always kept at a minimum, Geidel remembers. “There really was not much, or any misbehavior/bullying at all. We all were taught good Christian morals and lived by them,” Geidel said.
Misbehavior was handled through scoldings, parental intervention, and the occasional detention.
Although the transition from Saint Mary’s to WBHS was big, Geidel said it was smooth. “I had no problem having a positive attitude all the time, creating new friends, and just working hard at school,” Geidel said. “The teachers and community at Saint Mary’s has taught me and helped me to be the person I am today.”
Enrollment at the school has been steadily decreasing throughout the decades, with a current average of under 10 children in each class. Once the school closes, it’s anticipated that many of those students will transfer to one of the other local Catholic grade schools.
(Photographs by Lauren Sorensen, Editor in Chief.)