When Sheree Pintozzi Bredow was growing up on Circle Avenue, St. Bernardine’s School was her safe haven. “I had a rough home life. I loved St. B’s. For me it was very special. The teachers and nuns were so good to me and I made a lot of friends.” Sheree misses those friends now that she lives in Topeka, Kan. But she hasn’t lost her love for a school that closed its doors after 95 years. She’s co-chairperson for the St. Bernardine’s Reunion, which will be held in Fearon Hall, Sept. 14.
Sheree graduated with a large class in 1973. She was aware that in recent years St. B’s enrollment dropped dramatically. “I guess it’s a sign of the times. People can’t afford tuition. It’s sad that it closed but maybe with this event we can send it out in style.” This is the second, and last, reunion Sheree has helped organize.
“Two years ago I noticed a lot of St. Bernardine’s alumni on Facebook, so I started a St. B’s reunion page.” The page has attracted 255 members, so far. They post class pictures, photos of school bands, cheerleaders and teams. Like Sheree, many alumni have warm memories of the little school on Elgin.
These former students flocked to the 2011 reunion from thirty different states. Her co-chair, Mary Hofman, didn’t go to St. B’s but she’s been a huge help. Mary attends the church and all profits from the reunion will go to the parish.
“We raised over $3,000 last time,” Sheree recalled. “The response was overwhelming. It was crazy.” She’s following the same formula for this year’s celebration. “We’ll have Italian food buffet style catered by Jimmy’s Place. Jimmy’s wife went to St. B’s. After the reunion she invited people back to their bar.”
DJ Tom will provide the music and a prize will be awarded to the first couple to take the dance floor. Forest Park photographer Jennifer Wolfe will once again capture the event with her camera. Candy from Ferrara Pan will bring back sweet memories.
“We have people from the class of 1938 coming, all the way up to the class of 1984. Former principals and staff will also be there. The celebration, though, isn’t just for people who went there. If you had friends there, it would be good to see the school again. This may be the last chance to get together and exchange contact information.”
The semi-formal event will run from 4-10 p.m. Tickets are $40, which includes dinner, door prizes and hopefully a tour of the school. Checks or money orders can be sent to Sheree Bredow at 1225 S.W. High Avenue, Topeka, KS 66604, or to Hofman at 508 Marengo. “This could be our last reunion,” Sheree lamented, “It’s kind of bittersweet.”