Alumni, teachers say farewell to St. Joseph Academy
St. Joseph Regional Academy in Jim Thorpe held a farewell ceremony on Saturday, where alumni, teachers and parents were welcome to wish their old school a fond farewell. Scan this picture with the Prindeo app to see a photo gallery from the event. BRIAN MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS
Former student Lori Knox checks out some of the relics and records from St. Joseph Regional Academy.
Sister Mary Ripp with her former second grade student and event organizer Kathy Goff.
St. Joseph Regional Academy alumni, teachers and administrators came out to wish their old school a fond farewell on Saturday afternoon.
“Today is our farewell celebration,” event organizer and president of the Home and School Association Kathy Goff said. “The school closed on Thursday, but this is a chance for former students, former teachers, and sisters of Christian Charity who used to teach here to take that one last walk down the halls.”
St. Joseph has had a home at 25 W. 6th Street in Jim Thorpe since March 1, 1914, though the school has been in operation since 1874. Since 2014, enrollment rates have dropped about two-thirds, and only 41 children had registered for the 2018-2019 school year. The Diocese of Allentown sent out a letter to parents in April explaining that the school would be closed at the end of the year.
Alumni toured the halls of their alma mater throughout the farewell ceremony, chatting with the Sisters and perusing a sizable collection of yearbooks, photos and student projects, picking themselves out in pictures, strolling through the old classrooms, and reuniting with former classmates.
Like many visitors, Lori Knox, who attended St. Joseph Regional Academy from 1975 to 1983, found the event to be a mixed blessing of sorts.
“It’s wonderful and sad all at the same time. It’s nice to see the old pictures, but it’s sad to see the school close,” she said, pointing out that it was great to reconnect with people from the school. “I ran into my first grade teacher, and my seventh grade teacher. It was wonderful.”
Patty Martino, who taught at St. Joseph’s for 39 years, said that the ceremony was a fitting end to a wonderful school.
“It’s sad, but the nice thing is to see all the former students who came today to get a chance to look around at all the classrooms and everything. I had a wonderful career here at St. Joseph’s. It’s bittersweet. It was a nice day today, but it’s sad that it will no longer be open. It’s a nice celebration to close the school,” she said.
Gerald Strubinger, part of a family legacy at St. Joseph’s, spent plenty of time waxing nostalgic in the old halls, recalling the little things — the Sisters and their lessons, getting the polio vaccine in a sugar cube with his classmates — and enjoying the good company.
“It’s always good to come around here. I was the third generation here. Our family was one of the founders of the parish,” Strubinger said.
Perhaps no one got more joy out of the spectacle than the Sisters themselves, who took great pride in their school and the students.
“It’s always been family oriented, friendly and faith-filled,” Sister Angela Marie said.
“The president of Home and School, she was my little second grader. She was always a bright, bright kid,” Sister Mary Ripp, who taught from 1976 to 1979, said as she embraced Goff. “It’s been wonderful. This was always a great place in Jim Thorpe. There are wonderful people, and terrific kids.”
Though the doors may be closed for good, Goff, the alumni, and anyone and everyone associated with the school appreciated the wonderful opportunity to say goodbye, one last time.
“We needed it,” Goff said. “The kids needed it, the parents needed it, and we really needed our alumni and former teachers to come in one last time. A lot of them have really good memories of this place, so it was one of those things we had to do. We couldn’t just let the doors close behind us, we needed to have that final ‘hurrah.’”