After 66 years, St. Ludger Academy closed its high school in May 1969, after 17 members of the senior class received their diplomas.
Seven of those graduates reunited last Saturday at St. Ludger Social Hall to observe the golden anniversary of that event.
From the May 29, 1969 issue of The Creighton News...
“The Rev. James Fitzgerald, pastor of St. Ludger, has announced the closing of the St. Ludger high school. The Omaha Archdiocesan board of education, after consulting with the people of St. Ludger and the school board, recommended that the high school, grades 9-12, be closed.
“The grade school will continue to operate.
“The St. Ludger school opened its doors for the first time in 1933. It served students from Creighton and surrounding area since that time. The Rev. William Windolph, who died in 1943 while pastor of St. Ludger, directed the construction of the school. It was staffed by the School Sisters of St. Francis for 66 years.
“The high school closed because of difficulty in meeting rapidly increasing costs.
“‘The shortage of teaching sisters and the need to hire lay teachers has priced out of business,’ Fitzgerald said.”
The senior class received diplomas at commencement exercises Sunday, May 25, at the church. The presentation was made by Fitzgerald, who served as superintendent of the school.
Graduates were Phyllis Beach, Mike Becker, Lois Demerath, Gerald Ebel, David Effle, Deloris Frisch, Kenneth Fuchtman, Mary Hutchinson, Rita Macke, Bill Mathine, Marge Mattern, Lei Anne Rayer, William Richling, Michael Shaffer, Mary Kay Vrba, Sandra Wies and Joe Wunderlich.
Mattern was valedictorian and Hutchinson was salutatorian.
Mattern won a valedictorian award from “Readers Digest,” an Educational Opportunity Grant to Creighton University and Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award during the school’s Awards Night. Hutchinson received a Creative Scholarship for the University of Nebraska, the Homemaker of Tomorrow Award and a journalism award. Becker received a scholarship to Northeastern Nebraska College, Frisch received an award for proficiency in math and a journalism award; Vrba received a journalism award; and Wunderlich received an Omaha World-Herald Midlands Teen certificate for outstanding leadership and popularity.
Cited for perfect attendance during their high school years were Fuchtman, four years; Ebel and Wunderlich, three years.
Fifty-seven alumni attended the 58th annual St. Ludger banquet Saturday.
The Rev. Jeremy Hans celebrated Mass to begin the evening, after which the alumni and guests moved to the social hall. Pat Tharnish Neumann and Pat Mathine Kulman were hostesses, while Don and Diana Frisch served punch.
Phyllis Demerath Weber, alumni vice president, gave welcoming remarks, followed by introduction of special guests by Joan Schnieder Kershner, president.
Special recognition was given to Helen Healy Huigens from the class of 1940; the 60-year class, with five members in attendance; and the 50-year class, with seven.
During a business meeting, alumni were asked to vote on the location of their high school trophies, with options to keep them at the social hall or move them to the Creighton Historical Center. The vote was 23-18, to keep them at the social hall.
Hans reported on St. Ludger Elemtary School and Kershner gave a history of the Manion family, prior to Dr. James Manion of Omaha, a member of the class of 1959, taking the podium.
He spoke about his memories of high school activities.
Kershner presented the class of 1969 with copies of her book, “Northeastern Nebraska Barns.”