Rogers school planning alumni weekend for its 50th anniversary

First graders at St. Vincent de Paul School in Rogers are shown working in this April 2007 photo. The school is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall.
First graders at St. Vincent de Paul School in Rogers are shown working in this April 2007 photo. The school is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall.

ROGERS — “In 1957, two Benedictine sisters under the direction of Father Joseph N. Doyle opened St Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Rogers, Arkansas. That year Sister Anne Michele and Sister Rita Rose enrolled 50 students in grades one through eight. This year, in the fall of 2007, the school will mark its 50-year anniversary of providing Catholic education in northwest Arkansas.”
This is a portion of a recent letter sent to alumni and families of St Vincent de Paul announcing plans to mark the school’s anniversary.
Those plans include compiling an alumni database of all the students who attended the school.
“If people know of past graduates of the school, we’d love to hear from them,” said Kristine Grelle, school principal. She is working with co-chairs, Jean Pappas and Alesia Schaefer, to plan the celebration.
“We put out pictures of past alumni after all the Masses and we had numerous individuals coming up and giving us historical information,” Grelle said. “We went through the list and they (parishioners) added the details that they knew.”
Other valuable resources were the scrapbooks kept by members of the parish Altar Society. Newspaper articles indicating the school’s history were also on hand.
“Jean has taken it upon herself and her generosity to organize everything,” Grelle said. “So from this point on, we are going to have such a beautiful history of this school to keep.”
The school will mark the anniversary at special events such as the fall festival and a birthday party, but the main celebration will be the alumni weekend, Oct. 26-28 at the school and church.
The event will begin with dinner and a guest speaker, author, Dr. Ray Guarendi. He hosts the radio program, “On Call,” on Relevant Radio.
The weekend concludes with a Mass on Sunday, Oct. 28 featuring participation from both past and present students.
“The students of different decades will be taking up the gifts at Mass, lectoring and singing,” Grelle said. “There are people all over the state who have been involved — whether it was priests, nuns, teachers or past students.”
An open house to follow the Mass is being planned to include refreshments and a tour of the school — a tour that will undoubtedly show the many changes that have occurred over the past 50 years.
The school itself has undergone four major building projects and three of these were in the last 20 years. Next fall, the school plans to add eighth grade to its program.
The faculty and staff have grown significantly from the two Benedictine sisters in two classrooms in 1957 to 32 today.
To serve its 350 students, the school offers 17 classrooms, a full computer lab, music area, gymnasium, cafeteria and a library that holds 12,000 books. A federal hot-lunch program has supplemented the lunch boxes. Working parents can rely on both before and after school programs for their children.
“There has been a great deal of change but what remains the same is that we have a Christ-centered school where students are academically challenged and that has been the same throughout,” Grelle said.
The anniversary celebration is not limited to only those of the Catholic faith.
“We are looking forward to representing to the community what a blessing this school has been these 50 years,” Schaefer said.
For more information about the anniversary celebration, contact Alesia Schaefer at (479) 936-8477.

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