50 Years and Counting
St. John Catholic School Celebrated 50 years during the 2008-2009 school year
When St. John Catholic School opened its doors on September 15, 1958, there were only five Sisters of the Resurrection to operate the school. The school started with grades 1st through 5th and 132 students enrolled.
By 1962, a middle school was operating and the first 8th grade class graduated.
The legacy rich in Christian teachings and academic excellence passed on from the Sisters remains strong. Today St. John Catholic School continues to serve Bay County as one of the areas leading schools with students achieving tests scores in the top 10% nationally on the ITBS. Most graduating 8th graders are accepted into honors programs at area high schools, with many of them becoming college scholarship recipients.
St. John Catholic School remains committed to its mission of “Educating the Total Child in Mind, Body, and Spirit.” The philosophy still holds true today, “ A good citizen of America now and a good citizen of Heaven hereafter.”
Come Celebrate, Reunite, and Rediscover why this small school still captures the hearts of community members and alumni after all these years.
On September 15th, 2008, St.John Catholic School celebrated a Golden Anniversary. The celebration continued throughout the 2008-09 school year and culminated with a reunion in April.
September 14th, 2008 - On Sunday, September 14, after celebrating 10:15 Mass, Bishop John Ricard, and Father George, accompanied by the ceremonially dressed Knights of Columbus, led the congregants to the field behind the playground where the gymnasium will be built. Bishop Ricard encouraged all of us to continue to work toward the “long-hoped for dream of a campus gymnasium.” Beneath a bright blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds, the Bishop Ricard blessed the earth of the future building site, before he, Father George, Dr. Kathy Kidd and other parish leaders dug their shovel blades into the ground and turned it. We are “so very pleased that Bishop Ricard came all this way to participate in this inaugural event of our 50th Anniversary Year,” said Dr. Kidd. “This is a very inspiring day for our community,” she continued, “we have so many wonderful events planned for this year, this symbolic ceremony was the perfect kick-off event.” The Altar Society hosted a delightful cake and punch reception in the Parish Hall where the Bishop spent time chatting with attendees. The next day, St. John the Evangelist Catholic School celebrated its 50th Anniversary. The parish and school are not ready to start calling in the big machines just yet. First they must raise at least half of the $1.6 million (in cash) that it will cost to build the new gymnasium.
- Celeste Benson, St. John School Advisory Council President 2008
September 15th, 2008 - Mayor Clemons along with former teacher and now City Commissioner Billy Rader joined students, teachers and parents on the school playground to declare September 15, 2008 St. John Catholic School day.
Dr. Kathy Kidd called on the teachers who have served the school the longest to join her and Fr. George Zieba for a school wide ceremonial groundbreaking. Mr. Jimmy Boss, Mrs. Karen Hendrickson, and Mrs. Kirby Trunzo all have combined over 50 years service as teachers to the school.
Together with students they turned over the dirt on the playground in a symbolic gesture toward reaching their goal of building a new gymnasium during this 50th year in the school’s history.
Afterwards students enjoyed a game of kickball, games, a grilled lunch, and lots of birthday cake and goodies provided by the Anniversary Birthday Committee headed up by Mrs. Jennifer Gilley and Mrs. Christine Peaden and many parent volunteers.
Students donate over 1000 gifts to Catholic Charities
St. John Catholic School Students filled Birthday Boxes with Over 1000 food, new clothing,newtoys, and baby items to be given away byCatholic Charities Social Services.
“It’s heartwarming to see so many children thinking of other children and families as they placed the items in the oversized wrapped birthday boxes. Thesestudent’s thoughtful gifts of food and items will be shared with countless families throughout Bay County and surrounding area who are hurting right now as a result of our economy and who have lost jobs or homes.The toys will be shared with the children who areliving in transitional Catholic Charity homes because their family is homeless.” Said Diane Williams of Catholic Charities.
170 students kicked off their School’s 50th Anniversary Birthday celebration with birthday gifts. Not for each other, but for those going through tough times.
After a Student Ceremonial Groundbreaking on the site of the future gymnasium and City Proclamation made by Mayor Clemons the students enjoyed a school birthday party. Students played games, enjoyed a grilled lunch provided by parent volunteers, and gave presentations about what life was like for the first St. John Students who attended when the school opened it’s doors in 1958.
Before enjoying a piece of the school’s birthday cake each student brought bags, and boxes of new toys, canned food, new clothing items, baby items, and boxes of food. Catholic Charities Director Diane Williams estimated the students donated well over One Thousand items.
1st students return for 50th Celebrations
Two of the first original students to attend St. John Catholic School and a former teacher helped break ground on the site of the future Gymnasium at St. John Catholic School.
Andy Hodnack was a first grader in 1958 and Lillian Landgraf Cooper was a 2nd grader at St. John Catholic School when it opened 50 years ago.
Hodnack, Cooper, and former music teacher now Panama City Commissioner Billy Radar joined Principal Dr. Kathy Kidd, Mayor Scott Clemons, and Pastor Fr. George Zieba, CR in a ceremonial groundbreaking. Teachers Karen Hendrickson, Kirby Trunzo, and Jimmy Boss with tenure adding up to 50 years at the school also participated with 170 students and parents on Monday September 15, 2008 the day of the school’s 50th Anniversary.
- Christine A. Walker, PTO President 2008
Wine Tasting... A fun time with Friends of St. John
October 17, 2008 - The St. John School’s 50th Anniversary Wine and
Cheese Social “Under the Stars” was a success thanks
to all the Parent volunteers who helped create a beautiful
courtyard setting, prepared a fabulous spread of
cheeses and served wine to the many who turned out to
support the school while enjoying a fine evening with
friends and family. The event raised over $1000.00 to help our school. A special Thank you goes out to John and Gigi Kady
for stepping up to chair this event and to Trigo Café for
providing the wine and breads. Also, Pana Roma Restaurant,
The Marina Civic Center, Lowes Home Improvement
Store, Chocolate World, Fair Trade Charter
Sail, and the Pfefferkorn family for all the Silent Auction
items, Tables, food, fountain and plants.
- Christine A. Walker, PTO President 2008
50th Anniversary Celebration:
School’s 1st Golf Tournament and Dinner scores high marks
April 17th, 2009 -Alumni and friends came from all over the country panhandle area to enjoy the school’s 1st Golf Tournament on Friday April 17th at Tyndall Air Force Base. The event helped raise nearly $5,000.
“Considering it was the first attempt at hosting a tournament and we were competing with two other major events in the area, we are very grateful to our many sponsors and the 15 teams who chose to support our school and believe in the school’s mission by coming out to play on what turned out to be a beautiful day!” Said Principal Dr. Kathy Kidd. “There were so many requests for St. John to host another tournament we’re planning to make this an annual event which was named after one of the school’s active and visionary school board members Mr. James Selgrath who passed away last fall.”
April 18th, 2009 - On Saturday April 18th over 100 supporters and alumni filled the banquet room at the Shrimp boat restaurant for the Anniversary celebration dinner. Former teacher Susan Tull was recognized for her support over the last 20 years as a former teacher, parent, and volunteer and was awarded the Most Distguished St. John Supporter. St. John the Evangelist Parish Pastor George Zieba was also recognized for his continued support to help the school flourish. St. Dominic Parish Fr. Peter Zalewski, who has officially started a partnership with St. John School gave a powerful and motivating message about the value of a Catholic School education and simply asked each in attendance to share the good news about the educational opportunities at the school that so many in our community do not know about. Thanks Alumni, families, and friends and sponsors of St. John for supporting our 50th Anniversary year long celebration!
- Christine A. Walker
50th Anniversary Commitee
Susan Higby and Lillian Cooper, Alumni Relations
Judy Fiztpatrick, Alumni Database
Melanie Goodreau Walters, Alumni Reunion Dinner
Edwina Acoba McLane, Golf Tournament
Christine Fitzpatrick Peaden and
Jennifer Gilley, School Celebrations
Christine A. Walker, Anniversary Chair