St. Agnes School celebrates 100 years

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Olivia Pohl Curran graduated from St. Agnes School in 1925. Curran, 103, is thought to be the oldest living alumnus of the school.
Olivia Pohl Curran graduated from St. Agnes School in 1925. Curran, 103, is thought to be the oldest living alumnus of the school.

Olivia Pohl Curran, a 1925 graduate of St. Agnes School, remembers her time at the school with fondness and deep affection.

Curran is thought to be the oldest living alumnus of St. Agnes School. To put the time of her graduation in context, it occurred four years before the famed Black Tuesday of 1929 and the start of the Great Depression. She graduated 16 years before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

In other words, it was a long time ago, yet her memory of her time at the school is as keen as yesterday’s news.

The parish school, located at 1800 Newburg Road, marked its 100th anniversary with several events this past weekend including a dinner at the Galt House and an open house at the school.

Curran started her years at St. Agnes School in 1923 when she was in the sixth grade.

In an interview at her home last week, she described the school as “a three-room cottage with outhouses.”

She said her classroom was set up with “a row for sixth-grade, a row for seventh-grade and a row for eighth-grade.” When she graduated in 1925, it was with just nine other classmates.

Curran, 103, still lives on her own — and in her own home — located south of Hikes Point.

Curran remembers walking home for lunch to the family’s nearby home at 1611 Deerwood Lane, which her father built in 1923. And she recalls working at the school’s annual carnival, a tradition that began in 1924.

“Dad was in charge of the beer booth. We served dinners. We worked very hard for St. Agnes,” Curran said.

Curran was the third of 11 children of August and Rosa Pohl. Her eight younger siblings graduated from the school as well, she said. The youngest, Joseph, was the father of Father Steve Pohl, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Church.

“My dad used to tell Father Al (Aloysius Dowling) ‘I’m raising 11 children. I can’t afford to give a lot of money but I can help fix things,’ ” Curran recalled.

Father Dowling, a Passionist priest, was St. Agnes’ pastor from 1923 to 1946. Passionists, who reside in a monastery adjacent to St. Agnes, have operated the church since 1882.

Curran’s father, an iron worker, helped the Passionists with various maintenance chores and projects for many years, including constructing a statue of Mary that still stands on the grounds of St. Agnes Church. He also assisted with construction of the present church in 1927.

“The parish and school meant so much to my father’s family,” Father Pohl said.

All five Pohl daughters and youngest son Joseph were married at St. Agnes, Curran noted. August and Rosa Pohl were both buried from there in the late 1960s.

“I always thought an awful of St. Agnes. I never thought there was anything like St. Agnes,” Curran recalled.

The school opened in January of 1914 with 27 students under the direction of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. The present-day school was built in 1948.

St. Agnes School also plans to commemorate the anniversary with a special celebration during Catholic Schools Week and with a Mass celebrating the feast day of St. Agnes later this month.

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