Inquiries Invited About St. Louis Elementary Schoo  
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Ed Patenaude So I’ve Heard

Tracing back 125 years in local history to the opening of St. Louis Elementary School hasn’t been easy, but the people planning to celebrate the start of Catholic education in Webster aren’t caught in a time warp. They’re inviting inquiries through a relatively new phenomenon: e-mail.

The 125 years says something about the elementary school’s viability, and it’s a reason for an upcoming dinner-party Sept. 29 at the Sturbridge Host.

Started in the basement to the original St. Louis Church in 1882, the elementary grades moved into a six-room wood frame schoolhouse in 1884. For about 50 years, there were also high school grades starting around 1920.

The first school burned down in January 1929 and the existing school, with four secondary class rooms to the front of the building opened in 1930.

Although the high school managed its share of scholastic and athletic titles, it didn’t have the numbers to cover burgeoning budgets from the mid-1960s. St. Louis High School, which had small classes with an attention to detail, closed in 1969.

The reunion committee is trying to contact all of the graduates, especially those from the elementary school, but the informational stream dried up after the high school closed. This has been corrected, but organizers fear a lapse in the process, mostly because some addresses aren’t up to date.

The alumni committee includes Eddie Socha, president; Jovette Garceau-Gauthier, treasurer; Jackie Dixon-Meagher, data processing; Ann O’Connell, publicity; and others. It expects to mail invitations before the end of this month.

A large, representative crowd is hoped for, says Ms. O’Connell.

“Those planning to attend are encouraged to spread the word and bring along any St. Louis memorabilia they might have. St. Louis School has a proud history marked by many extra curricular activities, athletic teams and other competitive endeavors…

“Anyone who has not been contacted please contact, and give us your mailing address.”

The oldest St. Louis High graduate that I know is a 100-year-old Sister of Saint Joseph.

UMASSAmherst , the University of Massachusetts magazine for alumni and friends, has an interesting feature, “A Breath of Fresh Air,” in its current edition.

Webster native Richard Valentinetti, class of 1963, who is director of Vermont’s Air Pollution Control Division, is the subject. “A pollution control expert reflects on the long arc of environmental change,” says a subhead to the Matthew M. Gagnon story.

The report is pretty much about Mr. Valentinetti’s efforts in promoting environmental issues, and protecting the quality of life in Vermont.

Mr. Valentinetti says the environment isn’t yet a political priority, but suggests that generations now in grade schools will change public policies, according to the story.

The director of Vermont’s environmental activities for 17 years, Mr. Valentinetti was promoting electric powered cars last I heard from him. A graduate of Bartlett High School, he still has family here and visits from time to time.

Irene Savageau carted an Oxford Community Guide to a recent coffee klatsch. She turned to a test-your-memory segment, with photographs of Oxford businesses and landmarks — and the quizmaster made me her pupil.

I figured the first photo a cinch. It’s lettered “Oxford Diner.” I got a zero, said Ms. Irene. “It’s Carl’s Oxford Diner,” she emphasized, adding, “I work there.” There are 24 photographs in all, with the answers near the back to the Oxford Business Association publication.

I identified about a dozen of them, came close on a few others, getting locations without dates or the other way around, and missed the others. The current Day’s End had porches when George E. Chaffee ran a store there, and I thought a Fire Department steamer<
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