HISTORY OF ST. JOSEPH SCHOOL
1868 – 2018
On April 30, 1862, four men of German descent, Paul Bohn, J. Schweitzer, Nicholas Hetterich and Casper Dick, purchased and deeded on the southeast corner of St. Patrick and Erie Streets, Lots 12, 13 and 14 in Block 41 in what now is called the City of Racine. It is interesting to note that this property marks the northwest corner of the “original plat of Racine” as established by Guilbert Knapp, the founder of Racine, when he staked out his claim in 1834. These lots in turn were deeded to Archbishop John Martin Henni of Milwaukee on November 15, 1867.
Building activity started immediately and soon was erected a small schoolhouse which employed a lay teacher. Only one year later, however, in 1869, the school was destroyed by fire. But the diligence and faithfulness of the families would not bend – an element that was to become characteristic of succeeding families of St. Joseph’s for the next 140 years – and with the able assistance of Rev. J.A. Birkhaeuser, pastor of St. Mary’s, a larger building soon was erected, a two-story brick structure that was ready for use in December of 1870. It was a two-story, narrow, west-to-east brick structure, placed midway between our church and St. John’s property. This set-up provided a playground between the church and school for the girls and the area south of the school for the boys. The girls played jacks and ball, jumping rope, hop scotch, clap in and clap out and face tag. The boys resorted to baseball, playing chase – using real leather harness lines – crack the whip, etc. Each winter saw a good old snowball fight between the Catholics and the Lutherans. The new school had bright, cheery classrooms, a kitchen, dining room and even a gym.
On May 12, 1875, the Right Reverend Bishop John Martin Henni assists in laying the corner stone for St. Joseph’s Church.
In 1897 St. Joseph’s School is expanded to include an “entertainment” auditorium on the second floor at a cost of $8,000.
Gas light replaced the old kerosene lamps in the church, school and rectory in 1899.
A new Sisters’ convent was erected in 1906 at a cost of $4,270. Prior to 1906 the kids “just left school” after completing the seventh grade. During the 1905-1906 school year, the eighth grade was added under the able guidance of Sr. Clara. As a consequence, St. Joseph’s had its first graduating class in 1906 – six girls and one boy.
On July 27, 1920, the present playground is purchased for $23,000 with the intention of building a much needed high school. In 1924, the Dominican sisters opened St. Catherine’s High School, obviating the need for building a Catholic High School at St. Joseph’s.
In 1926, Fr. Bach introduces the “Envelope System” and begins a school fund. By the end of 1928, the year receipts totaled $18,688.
In 1946, blacktopping and fencing of the playground is completed.
In 1959, St. Joseph’s School enrollment reaches record 544 students.
In 1962, girl students begin wearing uniforms.
Class of 1968 – SCHOOL CENTENNIAL GRADUATION CLASS
In 1969, the sisters’ convent and school classrooms are remodeled.
The graduating class of 1922 celebrated its 50th anniversary of graduation in 1972 from St. Joseph’s School. A new tradition begins!
In 1973, the gymnasium is remodeled and shower rooms are updated.
Major renovation of the school hall and kitchen begins in 1974. Modernization of the cafeteria, kitchen, lower corridor and heating plant is completed at a cost of $68,000. A record 1,000 families now make up the St. Joseph Parish.
In 1978, the connecting lobby between church and school for additional office space was completed.
Charles T. Cooper replaces Sr. Dorothy Ann as school principal, freeing her to serve as Parish Secretary.
In 1983, our present small parking lot was cleared and fenced in as a playground space for little children. Computers made their appearance in school. Two young brothers, Jim and Tim Keefe, died tragically in a drowning accident – a flowering tree to the left of our school doors remembers them.
In 1875, St. Joseph’s School registered 175 students. As more classrooms were added, enrollments increased and by 1915 there were 370 students. Enrollment dipped during the depression years to about 250 and then began a continuous climb to a record 544 students in 1959. In 1975, there were 250 students. Today in 2018, there are 196 students receiving a Catholic Education at St. Joseph’s.
Faculty & Staff 2018 Front: Emily Berg (Principal), Christina Fons (6th). 2nd Row: Lisa Cervantes (K5), Sue Botzau (K5), Nick Scaffidi (Music), Meg Meyer (IT). 3rd Row: Jenn Krupecki (Learning Support), Heather Ropiak (7th), Dawn Duda (1st), Laura Miller (8th). 4th Row: Genie Bosch (Librarian), Tracy Krogh (K4), Terri Carpenter (2nd), Barb Menzhuber (5th). Top Row: Jeanmarie Diehn (Secretary), Becky Mierow (K4), Melissa Guzman (Art) and Coleen Ruediger (4th)
Graduating Class of 2018 Back Row: Richard Hopkins, Grace Liapis, Ben Robson, Grace Hamilton, Elizabeth Williams. Middle Row: Emily Berg – Principal, Samuel Huarota, Lydia DeLeon, Shae Rushlow, Cristian Galvan, Fr. Steven Varghese. Front Row: Ellie Rogers, Sofia Dentici, Josh Sanchez, Laura Miller - 8th Grade Teacher
On August 18, 2018, the Centennial graduates of St. Joseph School, Class of 1968, held a 50th Reunion at Beros Restaurant, Greenfield. From left to right: Pat Verbeten, (Fr) Roger Boesch, Bruce Kaskubar, Mike Ward, Rich Wagner, Cathy (Pier) Dowdell, Mario Denoto, Patti (Wiese) Jackson, Roxanne (Verwey) Barlow, Fran Adamowicz, Sr (Juan Marie) Janet Weyker, Jim Malik, Jeanne (Koleske) Misch, Joanne (Tykal) Goble, Irene Parent, Donna (Kaplan) Lepianka