Published October 30, 2008
Members of the final graduating class of Christ the King High School, the class of 1958, reunited Sept. 17 with a 4 p.m. Mass followed by a tour and dinner at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Father Tim Hepburn, son of alumna Alice Keiley Hepburn, celebrated the Mass.
Christ the King High School was formed as an extension of Christ the King School in 1939 when the eighth-grade class persuaded Grey Nun and principal Sister Mary Clement to form a ninth grade. With each year’s passing, they requested the formation of the next consecutive grade until 1943, when, overseen by Msgr. Joseph Moylan, nine students dressed in white caps and gowns passed beneath a white-flowered arch to become the school’s the first graduating class. Christ the King High School graduated only 16 classes, closing when St. Pius X High School opened. At the final graduation in 1958, there were 29 students.
Christ the King High School alumna Jane Simons fondly credits the success of Christ the King High School, though short lived, to the devotion of the Grey Nuns. The school began in a single room in the convent located on East Wesley, where Christ the King School’s gymnasium now sits, then expanded to classrooms constructed beneath the cathedral.
“They had to do everything,” said Simons of the Grey Nuns, “from teaching the required academic classes to instructing students in religion, drama, choir and sports. Sister Marie Christine, Sister Mary Regina, Sister Mary Sheila and Sister Mary Alberta were some of the pioneer members of the Grey Nuns order who rose to the challenge,” she added, and because space was at a premium, “while the glee club was rehearsing or the drama club was holding auditions for ‘Anne of Green Gables’ or ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ there would be strange smells coming from the chemistry classes taught behind the stage area. It all worked because the effort and pride were enormous, and everyone was having fun.”
Simons especially enjoyed recalling a significant sports triumph when Christ the King High School’s softball team beat Oglethorpe College in an intramural contest. “It was our first win, and we didn’t know how to react.”
Another graduate of the high school, Barbara Johansen, shared Simons’ appreciation and enthusiasm for what they experienced during their years at the school. She said, “We had no way of knowing at the time that we were getting the quality education that we were. But the feeling of togetherness that you get in a small school can’t be overemphasized.”
Johansen’s grandson George Kilguss is the third generation of her family to attend Christ the King School.
Echoing Johansen’s sentiments, Simons said, “As we look back over the last 50 years, (we realize) how much happened in our lives because of the secure beginnings of our education. And how many times do we think back to those who came before us and fought to open Christ the King High School on a wing and a prayer? Perhaps the greatest lesson we can take from this history is an appreciation of the genuine spirit and strength of everyone who came together and created this wonderful school.”
The class of 1958 dedicated its 50th celebration to the memory of the strength and spirit of the following classmates: Kathy Brennan, Joan Gerbec, Diane Goldstein, Carol Kindsvater, Liz Pemberton and Cici Smith.