Hundreds of women from across the nation are preparing to converge on Bay St. Louis this weekend for a special reunion. It's St. Joseph Academy's first all class reunion. The day and boarding school for girls was founded in 1855 and closed in 1967.
Ninety six year old Margaret Damborino graduated high school from St. Joseph Academy in 1923. She says she's getting excited about reminiscing about the good times she had at the school and seeing old friends again. "It was like a big family to me you felt like the others were almost like sisters we felt like it was one great big family the school," she said.
St. Joseph Academy started off in a small cottage in 1855 a short time later a larger building was built for the school. That building was demolished several years ago to make room for the Our Lady Of The Gulf Community Center. A statue of St. Joseph still stands on the property to remind students of the school that once was.
Beverly Zimmerman, was a part of the class of 1951 she says" We had a sister Aberteen who taught at the school for a number of years and she collected pennies from all of use in order to buy that statute." Beverly Zimmerman had a long history with the school. " If there is any goodness in my life St. Joseph Academy did this . I was able to go back and work for the sisters of St. Joseph after I graduated for 12 years I coached basketball PE classes and the school secretary when a new principal came in and stayed there until the school closed in 67." When Zimmerman attended the school tuition was just 6 dollars a month.
The women who attended the school say it was an educational experience they'll never forget. Dorothy Phillips, Class of 1947 says "The sisters came here from France in 1855 and they just had a wonderful attitude about life and they really wanted us to understand our religion and to learn how to practice it with joy and I feel I got that from them." St. Joseph Academy closed because of a lack of sisters entering the teaching field. Keeping the school opened would have meant hiring lay teachers, Something the school could not afford to do.