Fox Valley Catholic school closing after 150 years

Former students reminisce

APPLETON - Catholic Central Elementary School in Appleton is closing its doors next month.

On Saturday former students celebrated 150 years of the school's history.

"This is me," said Shelia Brooks as she pointed to a picture of herself dressed in her cheerleading outfit.

"I think of good times, eighth grade basketball… fun Friday nights," she said.

Brooks graduated from Catholic Central in 1970 when it was known as St. Mary's.

Brooks has a long family history with the school and she said she's sad to see the Catholic Central close.

"It was a comfort. It was home and to my father it was home," Brooks said.

The school opened its doors in 1864. That's the year before the Civil War ended and Lincoln was president.

Pictures from various decades decorated the halls and classrooms.

"Right here," exclaimed Joanie Streck as she points to a class photo.

Streck remembers being taught by nuns for eight years.

"They were very dedicated women," she said.

Seventy years later there's one memory Streck still carries with her.

"I was caught chewing gum one time and was made to sit in the waste basket. Can you imagine that happening nowadays? I don't think so."

Streck never chewed another piece of gum in class.

When Streck heard her old school was closing, she felt disappointment and sadness. Those feelings are shared among many alumni as more than 500 people attend the all-school reunion.

The school is closing because of low enrollment. However, Catholic education will continue in Appleton. Current students will attend school on the north side of the city.

"It's bittersweet for us because of course we'd like to stay here and we'd like to stay in this building but ultimately we're all parents and we all want our children to have the best education possible," said Sarah Mix.

As for Catholic Central, the school's legacy and long history will continue to live on through pictures and the memories of former teachers and students.

Saint Bernadette Elementary School in Appleton will also close this school year. Organizers held a goodbye celebration Saturday.