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St. Mary school celebrates 135 years

October 13, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN - At St. Mary Catholic School in Hagerstown, people recall several generations of their families attending the school and the unique bond they have with the institution.

"It's definitely a family environment, and you feel close to people," said the Rev. J. Collin Poston, who oversees the school.

The Catholic school at the intersection of West Washington and Prospect streets is celebrating 135 years of existence. Last month, friends of the institution celebrated at the school.

Former students of the school walked up the halls during the Sept. 20 open house, recalling memories and the administrators who influenced their lives.

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One visitor, Robert Schleigh, went through his elementary grades and some of his high school grades at the school.

High school was offered at St. Mary Catholic School until 1955, when St. Maria Goretti High School opened.

Schleigh said his brother, Thomas, went to school at St. Mary with him. Thomas Schleigh also came to town for the open house.

"I said, 'Man, where has the time gone?'" Robert Schleigh said.

Schleigh walked into a lower level of the school and pointed to a picture of Monsignor Robert Passarelli, who used to oversee the school.

Schleigh talked fondly of Passarelli and how he was the "rock of this parish."

"He was straight down the line, no left or right," Schleigh said.

Susan Hankey Webb recalled during the Sept. 20 open house of attending St. Mary "with a gazillion cousins" and how she was one of four siblings who went through the school.

"It's wonderful to see this school and that it's still a success," Webb said.

The school has steadily grown over the years through various additions and St. Mary's Catholic Church on the property was initially a log structure, said Mike Morrell, business manager for the church and the school.

School officials say 247 students attend classes there and many students are children of parents who attend church at St. Mary's Catholic Church, as well as other Catholic churches in the county.

Besides the school's regular curriculum, other academic offerings include guitar and piano, which are taught after regular school hours, Morrell said.

This Christmas, the school's chorus is expected to perform with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, school officials said.

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