75 years of friends, learning

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 16, 2000

Mary Elizabeth Holtzapfel chuckled, thinking about how 1937’s St.

Saturday, September 16, 2000

Mary Elizabeth Holtzapfel chuckled, thinking about how 1937’s St. Joseph High School has changed over the years.

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"The nuns taught us and we had to tow the line, I’ll tell you," she said.

Teachers are different now. Classroom lessons contain much more math. And there are no football games right after school.

Yet, the old school still stands, still graduates classes each year – and it’s wonderful, she added.

Saturday, Mrs. Holtzapfel stood with community members, alumni, parishioners and parents gathered to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the school’s unerring mission – to teach.

The 75th anniversary celebration coincided with the school’s annual open houses, a showcase of sorts for the volunteer work that goes on during the summer, school board members said.

The event also brought a guest, Bishop Gilbert Sheldon of the Steubenville diocese, who led a rededication of the school and a mass.

Officials took bids for the $100,000 school building in 1924. It opened for classes Sept. 14, 1925.

Mrs. Holtzapfel, one of the 37 graduates of the Class of 1937 who were the first to complete 12 years in the new school’s halls, still has her class’s graduation picture that ran in the newspaper.

"I have all the clippings," she said. "I’m really proud of St. Joe."

Her children attended the school, her children’s children and now her great-granddaughter.

What makes St. Joe special?

"We always stuck together for one thing," Mrs. Holtzapfel said.

It’s one of the best schools for the entire family, she said.

Joe Crance would agree. He graduated in 1938.

It’s unknown when the first German schoolmaster came to Ironton but historians assume that the recorded 1864 birthdate of St. Joseph parish corresponds with the school’s beginning.

Ensuing years of school led to rising enrollments and the need in the 1920s to expand.

And Crance remembers the effects of the 1937 flood, his 42 classmates, the old-fashioned Charity Ball and the ever-popular Mardis Gras Ball – a formal affair.

Saturday, he even brought some old newspaper articles of the memories, pictures of booster activities and other events.

"It does have quite a history," Crance said.