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Still loyal and proud: Q&A with STA alumnae

As we enter our 150th year, graduates give us a glimpse into their experiences.

by MaryMichael Hough, Managing Editor of Copy

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Jordan Miller- Class of 2010

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Why did you choose STA?

“I actually wanted to go to [Bishop Miege High School.] I grew up in Shawnee and all of my friends from grade school were going to Miege or St. James Academy. I always figured I’d go to school with them, but my mom began to research all-girl high schools and found STA. She was the one who encouraged me to look at STA and in the end sort of made me go there. I was unhappy about it at the time, but by the end of it I was so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to go to STA. There are so many experiences I had at STA that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else. I don’t think it would be possible to replicate the bond our class had at any other school.”

What were you involved in at STA?

“I was involved in Care Club, Big Sister, Peer Helpers, Campus Ministry, Kairos, and different sports – swimming, lacrosse, and cross country.”

Tell me your favorite story or moment at STA.

“This may sound cliché, but one of my favorite moments at STA and in my life was when I won Academy Woman. That was a surreal experience. I’ll never forget the girls in my class running down from the bleachers and giving me hugs.”

What was a major event that happened while you were at STA?

“When I was a freshman, St. Teresa’s Celebrated its 140th year.”

Who was your favorite teacher? What was your favorite class?

“Mrs. Reznicek and I believe she taught World Faiths. Mrs. Rez gave her students a different perspective on faith – whether that be our own, or faith in other cultures. She challenged me to think outside of the box when it came to what I believed, and this helped me to form a more solid foundation of my own faith. Her challenge taught me that I needed to be able to back up what I said I believed, and that was a wonderful lesson.”

What was your uniform like?

“We had black and red sweaters, white polo shirts with “STA” embroidered on them, and the plaid skirts. The black vests were new our senior year.”

What was the campus like? Where was the gym? Where did you eat lunch? Etc.

“The gym was in Goppert. We ate lunch in the basement of M&A. The campus only had three buildings while I was there. Such a beautiful campus.”

What kind of special events happened at STA?

“My favorite events at STA were the dances. Every mixer and homecoming dance was so fun. The music we played was easy to dance to and everyone was so fun to dance with. No one was scared to get out there and have a blast.”

What was your favorite part about going to STA?

“My favorite part about going to STA was the sisterhood and the companionship we shared.”

Did you take any classes that influenced your current profession?

“I took Anatomy and Physiology because I was interested in nursing.”

Are you still friends with people that you went to St. Teresa’s with?

“This is another aspect I absolutely love about St. Teresa’s. My best friends came from St. Teresa’s. We go on trips together and hang out in Kansas City whenever everyone is back in town. Also, if I saw someone from my class, I would be so excited to see her and catch up. I hang out with STA girls in Kansas City, and I actually live with two of my closest friends from my graduating class.”

Is there anything else that you would want to say about STA in general?

“St. Teresa’s was one of the greatest blessings – it brought me so much joy and provided me with several opportunities to help me succeed. St. Teresa’s instilled in me confidence, compassion, leadership, intelligence, and a sense of camaraderie. The young women of St. Teresa’s Academy were taught to go forth living by St. Teresa of Avila’s message, and one of the Sisters of St. Joseph’s mottos: “In this house all must be friends, all must be loved, all must be held dear, all must be helped.” This saying is framed in my room to this day. What an awesome message.”

 

Betsy Reardon O’Brien- Class of 1998

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Why did you choose STA?

“I grew up ‘out south’ at a public grade school and decided I wanted to branch out a bit, meet new people and most importantly, my parents and I agreed that a single sex education was very important.”

What were you involved in at STA?

“Soccer all four years, basketball for two years, newspaper for four years, National Honor Society.”

Tell me your favorite story or moment at STA.

“I am sitting here thinking and not sure if I could ever pick out a favorite moment.  The question just made my smile because there are SO MANY great times and great memories.  Almost the little everyday things are my favorite and not just one moment.  I think all those ‘moments’ really are my favorite.”

Who was your favorite teacher? What was your favorite class?

“I had an English Teacher named Mrs. [Kathy] Lamb who really pushed me and engaged my interest in a subject I didn’t naturally love.  She was hard on me, which ended up being to my benefit.  Also absolutely loved Dr. Joe [Grantham] who taught math. He was like a grandpa figure who was so proud of us all and such a good teacher.”

What was your uniform like?

“They started allowing STA sweatshirts with the tartan plaid skirts when I was there and that was a welcomed change from the itchy sweaters.”

What was the campus like? Where was the gym? Where did you eat lunch? Etc.

“Gym was still where it is now but we ate lunch in the “pit”.  Upperclassmen below and younger sitting above around [the] perimeter.”

What was your favorite part about going to STA?

“Opening up the world to me- being in a single sex environment and seeing girls for who they really were.  For having pride in being smart, athletic and kind which I don’t think I would have found at a coed high school.”

Did you take any classes that influenced your current profession?

“Yes and no. I was always very good at math and a big social butterfly at STA.  I now sell real estate and definitely continue to make connections through the confidence I gained at STA and my experience meeting so many people with all different backgrounds and finding we had more in common than we thought.”

Are you still friends with people that you went to St. Teresa’s with?

“Still have monthly girls dinners with my high school friends and continue to run into so many other friends in all STA grads in the new network I live in with my kids and profession.  It is amazing how many alums are all around the community and all share equally positive experiences and memories.”

Is there anything else that you would want to say about STA in general?

“[Coming to STA was the] best decision of my life. [I am] closer to my STA friends and classmates than any others in my life. I developed friendships, excelled academically, started college with 10 college credit hours, made me confident, driven and grateful.  I am already excited for my daughter to get to attend in the future and see all that it will do for her.  Love the respect that STA is given across the area and so proud to be an alum.”

 

Kathleen Aylward Wiedeman- Class of 1980

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Why did you choose STA?  

“I chose STA because my parents knew that the single sex education was the best for us.  My two older sisters went to STA and we lived close to the school.  There was never a question in my mind whether or not I would go to STA.”

What were you involved in at STA?  

“I was involved in Freshman basketball and track for my first two years and [I was] a class officer my junior year.”

Tell me your favorite story or moment at STA.  

“My favorite moments at STA were the skits put on for the dances to introduce the theme and the location of the event.  It was all a really big deal.  The skits involved teachers and students and they were so funny.  We would all gather in the M&A auditorium and the anticipation was very exciting.”

Who was your favorite teacher? What was your favorite class?  

“My favorite class was Chorus.  My favorite teacher, hands down was Nancy Hand.  I didn’t love typing and that’s what she taught but I really liked her.  She was fair, smart and a mystery.  She was cool.”

What was your uniform like?  

“We could chose from a blue plaid uniform skirt, brown plaid uniform skirt or a yellow-ish gold uniform skirt and we had to wear these stiff polyester blouses.  We had a black sweater with STA monogram on it and for pictures or assemblies we wore blazers to match the skirt.  The blazers were the solid colors blue, brown and gold.  We had to wear knee high socks or we got written up and had to see Ms. Pauline Reardon and later Sr. Marie Joseph, the disciplinarians.  They really enforced the uniforms.  For PE we wore an all white jumpsuit that had bloomer, puffy shorts.  We had to wear PE uniforms to PE class.”

What was the campus like? Where was the gym? Where did you eat lunch? Etc.   

“The campus was M&A building and Donnelly building and the parking lot.  There was a boiler house down where the softball field is now.  That’s where Trash n’ treasure was held each year.  The driveway from the parking lot went through the buildings.  People could drive around the campus in a circle.  It was so much fun when the Homecoming Parade would go through.  It was fun for boys to drive through the campus driveway and honk.  The Gym was where you all have lunch presently.  I don’t think STA could host games at our school because our gym wasn’t regulation size.  The lunchroom was where the art room is in the basement of Donnelly.”

What kind of special traditions did you do during your time at STA?  

“We had freshman week where the freshman had to wear certain things, etc. Of course the upperclassmen would say we needed to carry their books for them during this particular week or buy elevator passes. We had spirit week, we had fun skits for dances, we had dances in the STA gym. At the end of the year each class would move up in their auditorium seats into their newly appointed seats, grandmother’s tea. The St. Joseph trunk was a trunk from the sisters of St. Joseph that a huge group of people would ‘pimp out’ with linens and lamps and baskets and towels and it would have a raffle with one lucky winner. Trash n’ treasure was a great week at STA.  We could go to TNT during our ‘free mods,’ now called unstructured time. We weren’t supposed to sit on the lawn during our one ‘free’ mod a week that didn’t need stamping but we all did on nice days.  We had people looking for teachers walking through the campus and we would sit up and act like we were reading.”

What was your favorite part about going to STA?

“The friends I made and the exceptional role modeling by the faculty and staff at STA. I have two favorites.  I was surrounded by amazing, upbeat, friendly young women and faculty.  The friends you make at STA are your friends for life.”

Did you take any classes that influenced your current profession?  

“I am presently a teacher, I would say all the teachers I had at STA influenced the professions I am in.”

Are you still friends with people that you went to St. Teresa’s with?  

“I am still very good friends with the girls I was really close with at STA.  Over the years we have come together many times during the course of a year.  Now we have just initiated getting together once a month again, like we did when our kids were smaller and it was harder.  We don’t know how we let a few years go by where we didn’t get together but two times a year. My friends are my story at STA.  I love them dearly.”

Any funny stories?

“Funny stories…oh yes!  Do you have room for all of them?  Most of them probably wouldn’t be funny if I retold them on paper, they had to be witnessed and experienced. Suffice it to say, it was 4 years of laughter until your jaw hurts.”

Is there anything else that you would want to say about STA and/or your experience in general?

“I would say  I was fortunate to go to St. Teresa’s Academy.  Going to STA was ‘living the dream.’  We had many dedicated Sisters of St. Joseph as teachers and presidents of the school, we had a strong staff of lay teachers and a beautiful campus –throw in your best friends and their friends and their friends and their friends and you have a family of strong female leaders  that have dispersed throughout the country and abroad who share this experience.  To that I say, Happy 150th STA. We salute our alma mater.”

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Still loyal and proud: Q&A with STA alumnae