“The School that Built Me”

St. Mary’s Catholic School

The final good-bye

“The School that Built Me”
–based on Miranda Lambert’s “The House that Built Me”

“I know they say, you can’t go home again
I just had to come back one last time …
If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me.”
-Miranda Lambert

I was 4 years old the first time I walked through the doors of St. Mary’s Catholic School in Defiance, Ohio.
I was 12 years old when I left.
Pre-K through the 6th grade.
Eight years; eight teachers; and the (almost) the same 14 to 16 students year after year.
When I first started attending school, a nun served as the principal.
She terrified me. I can still see her face if I close my eyes tight. She terrified many students.
Despite my fear over being sent to the principal’s office, St. Mary’s WAS the school that built me.
And now, they are tearing it down.
Here are a few of my memories:

PRE-K – I remember someone bringing in cupcake ice cream cones for their birthday. I was simply amazed that cake could bake in a cone. Still am till this day. I also climbed up onto this platform in the middle of the room and was afraid I would fall as I tried to climb back down. The teacher wouldn’t help me – I guess that was Pre-K Life Lesson #1 – AVOID THE PLATFORM. (And, yes, I made it down … eventually!)

KINDERGARTEN – Oh, it was fabulous! We met “The Letter People.” Miss A – AAAcchooo; Mr. B – Beautiful Buttons … and my favorite, “Mr. M – with the Munchie Mouth.” After we learned a new letter, it was placed above the classroom lockers. It was awesome!
I also received my first kiss in kindergarten underneath the hamster table.

FIRST GRADE – “One Potato, Two Potato” was our reading book.
My mom also thought it would be a GREAT idea for me to bring my 4 year old cousin (at the time) to “science experiment day.” She cried and cried and cried. It was great!
I also wet my pants for the first and only time because my teacher told me to “hurry up” in the bathroom and I forgot to actually pull down my pants. Mom saved the day!

SECOND GRADE – Ah, my mom began her tenure as the school secretary. This was also the year when we made our First Holy Communion. I honestly don’t remember much about second grade. It must have been a crappy year in my book. I do remember the teacher asking my mom, “Why does Melissa blow her nose ALL THE TIME?” My mom’s response, “She has ALLERGIES.”
And, if my memory serves me correctly, this may have been the year I pulled a classmates hair while we were in line for a game of kickball during gym class. Sorry about that.

THIRD GRADE – This was another awesome year.
We had a bake sale (for those of you who may not know, I loved playing store as a YOUNG child, so this was my dream come true).
I was also in the school’s talent show lip-syncing Debbie Gibson’s “Shake Your Love.”
And, all the third graders landed a spot in the three class plays. I was “Slue Foot Sue” in “Pecos Bill.” Sadly, my “Pecos Bill” died last year – Matt O’Brien – but we will always have his “BUSTLE? WHAT’S A BUSTLE?” line … and in my Western twang, I told him “A bustle is something pretty a girl wears on her wedding dress.”

FOURTH GRADE – I loved my fourth grade teacher. In fact, I loved her so much that when I “played school” at home, I set a coffee cup on my “desk” to imitate her. Long after I left St. Mary’s, I learned that she did not keep coffee in that cup. It was Mt. Dew! That explains how she was able to keep up with my class!

FIFTH GRADE – Um yeah, HATED fifth grade. Sorry. Nothing good to report about that year.

SIXTH GRADE – The sixth graders “ruled” the school … not really, but we all thought so!
In the sixth grade classroom during Christmas, I landed the part of “Mrs. Claus” for the Secret Santa shop. It was so fun! It was also during this time that I was locked inside my classroom during lunch. I was getting my lunch money out of my desk, and clearly I must have shoved it in the back, because as I was bent over trying to find it, the door closed and locked from the outside in. I was so upset! Finally, one of my classmates informed my mom (who was at this point in her fourth year of being the school’s secretary that “Melissa isn’t at lunch.”) I heard my mom yelling, “MELIS, MELIS … WHERE ARE YOU?” And from the classroom door’s peephole my big voice screamed back “MOOOOMMMM” … and then when I saw her I cried. It was very dramatic! I was very hungry!
Our class also took a trip to Camp Mohican. It wasn’t the greatest time in my life, but we all survived.
And on our graduation day, I sobbed. I was terrified of what was in store for me at … PUBLIC SCHOOL. (But no worries, I went from a school where my mom worked to one where my dad taught … math. But that’s for another blog!)

And while I know a building is just a building and the people on the inside are what made it a great school, it will still be difficult to drive by there when I visit to see it gone from Washington Street.
To my teachers:
Mrs. Welty
Mrs. Parrish
Mrs. Jones
Mrs. Weaks
Mrs. Shook/Mrs. Brown
Mrs. DeCola
Ms. Zachrich
And Mrs. Mack

And to my classmates:
Tim Aden, Allison Beerbower, Michelle Castillo, Michael Costilla, Anita Gee, Nicole Gonzales, Alicia Heilshorn, Devon Hale, Matt Hess, Christina Offutt, Lisa Ordaz, Fidel Paniagua, Michelle Rettig, Christina Rodriquez, Ryan Walker and Alex Westmeyer.
“Thanks for the memories …”

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One thought on ““The School that Built Me”

  1. nice article Melissa…you are an awesome journalist and i am so proud to have watched you grow up with Lisa…i hope you two remains friends forever…very sad to see the building go down but the memories will remain in our hearts forever!

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