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Saint Euphemia's School

Ed Houck

There are a wealth of stories connected with the old St. Euphemia's School. It was built in 1889 [on the site of the first public started in this town, which was a was a long, low brick schoolhouse] and named after Mother Euphemia, the provincial superioress of the Sisters of Charity. She was the first one to send the Sisters into Emmitsburg to take over for the lay teachers in 1878.

My memories of St. Euphemia's started when I first attended in 1936. The Sisters were a sight to behold in their heavy habits and white head pieces that reminded us of angels or flying doves. We had classrooms, with cloak rooms and a large auditorium on the second floor. My Mother, Agnes Rosensteel and all her sisters & brothers attended the school and now it was my time. My two sisters were a few years ahead of me and I had an easy start.

There was a large dirt & grass playground in the rear next to St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery. Everything from marbles to kickball were held daily during recess. There was another playground on the east side of the Sisters residence where the overflow of recess could be held. Special events and assemblies were held in the auditorium. I remember our own Christmas Plays and even the visits of the Native American Indian Dancers. I can remember my Uncle Louie Rosensteel as he acted and sang in one program.

Discipline was one of the keystones of the Sister's education program. In the third or fourth grade, I was caught talking and was put under the Sisters desk for the remainder of the morning and if I moved to get situated in the close corner and she heard the movement, a light kick would follow. I learned to speak only at the proper time.

St. Euphemia's School Choir would make at least a yearly trip to the radio station in Frederick to sing Irish songs on St. Patrick’s Day. We also had many visits from the Priest of the Dioceses as they would talk on a religious vocation for those that were so inclined.

One year we had a football team, with practice uniforms, given us by some of the Military from Fort Ritchie (I think). We played no games with other schools but learned the basics of football.

In the winter, there was no such thing as a snow day. With the Sisters living in the adjoining building and a number of the children walking to school, we were always expected to be there.

One summer a number of us were asked to be students in the classes that were being held for the new teachers learning their craft at St. Joseph's College. This would run for about two weeks in the mornings. A car from the college would pick you up and deliver you home each day. We had our names on large signs around our neck so that the new trainee teachers would learn to call us by name. I remember that after a week of this a few of us tired of the program and asked our parents to be able to quit. We were told if we were there when the car came, we would have to go. So, each morning for the second week, I and some of the others would leave home early to go fishing or just play away from our homes.

Back to the winter time, one of the best times happened at the close of school on a snowy day. Everyone brought their sled and could do a running belly-flop from the top of the hill at St. Euphemia's and end up nearly a quarter mile at the edge of Flat Run or what was called Whitmer's Wharf.

I know there are many other stories on the early life of St. Euphemia's that can be told. My sisters, Mary Theresa & Margaret, still can sing the St. Euphemia's School Song. Do you remember it?

Do you have memories of attending school in Emmitsburg? 
If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net

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