Alumni say, ‘It’s about time we had a reunion’Fifty-nine years ago, the first class graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas School, in St. Paul Park. And although the school has been closed since 1970 and the two buildings that housed it are gone, many of those alumni still stay in touch.
By: Toni Lambert, South Washington County Bulletin
Fifty-nine years ago, the first class graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas School, in St. Paul Park. And although the school has been closed since 1970 and the two buildings that housed it are gone, many of those alumni still stay in touch.
They will have an opportunity to meet and greet other alumni at an all-class reunion that begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the church activities building, 920 Holley Avenue.
The reunion, being organized by former student Virgie Cornwell, is slowly coming together.
“So far I’ve had a good response,” Cornwell said. “People are saying ‘it’s about time we had a reunion.’”
Cornwell has spent days reading through old school records and talking with alumni to be sure former students know about the first all-school reunion, which is being held in conjunction with the year-long celebration of the church’s 125th anniversary.
“In fact, a large number of alumni still live in the metro area,” Cornwell said.
Eleanor Adams Kegley, who was a member of the first graduating class in 1950 and one of two class secretaries, plays cards on Wednesdays with fellow alumna Margaret Heselton Bloom.
“I have happy memories of the school,” Kegley said recently, although she was hazy on specifics. “Margaret has a better memory.”
Bloom, who lives in Roseville, remembers every teacher in the school, she said. “We had a wonderful principal. Sister Joseph Helene was principal and teacher. She made learning fun.
“We always had to go out for recess, winter and summer,” Bloom said. “In those days we wore dresses and I remember my legs freezing standing outside for 15 minutes.”
The Heselton family lived two doors down from the corner of Broadway and Summit avenues, in St. Paul Park. The children had to walk to the school which was first located in rooms above the basement church, at 10th and Laurel avenues.
“I never got a ride to school,” Bloom said.
Bloom’s mother was assistant cook in the school kitchen. “Sometimes I was called out of class to help prepare lunch. The food was wonderful. The kitchen was at one end of the room and the first grade was at the other end.
“At night, my mother would tell us funny stories about the students,” Bloom said.
A favorite memory of Virgie Cornwell was the Ashland Grocery, across the street from the school. “It was owned by the Burgoyne family then and it had a wonderful selection of candy,” Cornwell said. “You had to be a certain age to cross the street, and could only go at recess with permission.”
If you go
An all-class reunion of students who attended the St. Thomas Aquinas School, in St. Paul Park, begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the church activities building, 920 Holley Ave.
Activities for the evening will include a catered dinner by Tinucci’s Restaurant, a cash bar and lots of reminiscing, according to organizer Virgie Cornwell.
Tickets are $15 per person and reservations are required by Wednesday, July 15. For details, go to email@example.com or call Cornwell at (651) 768-8122.