Former North Side school plans reunion

Patty Aguglia Liebman said that graduates of the former St. Boniface School on Pittsburgh’s North Side are close because, even though many of them had little in the way of material goods, they witnessed the values of faith and family at home and at school.

“The bond is unbreakable and holds us very close,” she said.

Graduates will gather to share their stories at a St. Boniface Grade School reunion on Saturday, May 25, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Marriott North in Cranberry Township.

Liebman has memories of hard-working, dedicated teachers who drove for excellence and accountability. Students sat according to class rank, she noted, and the better students helped those who struggled. “We thought little of it and wanted everyone to succeed,” she said.

She has fond memories of performing in school musicals and of their teacher, Laurette Cribbins, who made them feel like stars. And then there was the trip to see a performance of “Veronica’s Veil” on Pittsburgh’s South Side. She recalled how her class caused an “uproar” and consequences awaited them at home.

“We had a solid foundation and are blessed,” she said.

Gerry Orr has many fond memories. Among them is being selected to play one of the children in “The King and I” in the fourth or fifth grade. “It was all I talked about for a few weeks,” she said.

She pointed out that one of the reasons graduates of the school are close is that they share the common experience of having their family homes relocated due to the construction of Interstate 279.

“St. Boniface was always a close-knit parish,” she said. “A parish where everyone knew each other. So the relocation seemed to only make the bonds that much stronger.”

Her mother was a 1937 graduate of the school. Her three brothers and maternal grandfather also graduated from there.

Don Feitl and his wife, Linda (Schubert), are both graduates. Don recalled friendships built on fields and schoolyards that were never empty and curfews that were controlled by street lights. He spoke of how, with the stroke of a bell, their principal, Benedictine Sister Mary Ruth Miller, could get 350-400 children aligned in perfect rows of two within two minutes. He also remembered the day a bull got loose from a nearby slaughterhouse and they watched as police chased it on hills across from the school.

“We became family,” Don said. “Our friendships and camaraderie grew to be very strong.”

Many of their friendships, he noted, carried well beyond their high school years, and they have become influential in each other’s lives.

“Those were great years at St. Boniface, ones that will never be forgotten,” he said.

The school closed its doors in June 1972. It had long been staffed by the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh. Members of the order who taught there or were from the parish are being invited, as well as several of the staff who served there.

Some 300 attended a reunion at the Pittsburgh Marriott North in 2003.

Tickets are $50 per person ($100 with a guest) and include a choice of meat, fish or vegetarian lunch. Discounted room rates are available for those staying overnight May 24 and/or May 25.

For information, e-mail Orr at suvcwgro@aol.com, Don Feitl at dlmajdf@verizon.net, Aguglia Liebman at liebmanpa@hotmail.com or Jack Miller at millerpgh@aol.com, or call 412-931-7304.