Jay Petrin, Jerry Schwarz, Sharon Paz, all class of '51 and Pat Floersch, class of '52 talk about the soon to be torn down Our Lady of the Lake School.
LAKE OSWEGO - Standing in the same gym where she played basketball as a child, Gege Rayburn smiled softly as she pondered the fondest memory of her eight years at Our Lady of the Lake School here.
Finally, pointing across the court to a spot just above the faded free throw line painted on the floor, she said “When I made my one basket, in eighth grade. It was the only one I made all year.”
Small moments such as this loomed large on Sunday afternoon, as an estimated crowd of 200 past students, teachers, and administrators gathered after Sunday Mass to share memories and say goodbye to a facility that holds such a special place in their hearts. Students and faculty will move into their new building this fall.
In a short address on behalf of her fellow Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, whose members helped found the school in 1938 and served it until 1983, Sr. Barbara Collier recalled with warmth the four years she spent here as a teacher in the late 50s and early 60s, even as her story proved positively chilly.
“Many times the furnace didn’t work, and the school was freezing, but we couldn’t send anyone home,” she said. “And so we would have relays here in the gym, going back and forth just to keep warm.”
In her comments, Sr. Collier also emphasized the sense of community between children and staff at Our Lady of the Lake that often went above and beyond a simple teacher/student relationship.
“Sometimes when they couldn’t have school and the bus wasn’t ready, the walkers, the children who lived nearby…they’d come to school anyway,” she said. “We would make hot chocolate and everyone would sit and do a few art projects and visit and just have a good time.”
Examples of this almost family-like intimacy between educators and their pupils echoed in the comments and reminiscences of many alumni. Mary Sharon Moore, 62, fought back tears as she remembered her first-grade teacher, Sister Mary Kevin, approaching the family vehicle at her father’s funeral.
“She came and knocked on the window and said to my mother ‘I love you,’” recalled Moore, who was in college by this time. “To see the love that this teacher had for my mother at a moment of incredible pain…she was just pouring love.”
For Principal Joan Codd, who has held her post for 20 years, the demolition of the old school brings mixed emotions. She acknowledged her own attachment to the current building, but was realistic about the benefits of the new facilities. The current building, built in the early 40s, does not meet modern safety regulations and is increasingly inadequate regarding “the standards and quality you want for a 21st-century school.”
“I certainly have good memories from here,” she said. “But I’ve also been here long enough to know all of its faults, and I’m very ready not to have those faults on a daily basis anymore.”
Rayburn agrees. Looking back to the same spot on the court where she once had her moment of glory, she sighed and said, “I’m bittersweet. I’m sad to see this go, but I’m more happy about the new building. Change is good sometimes.”