In the Hamilton School District there has been a series of church schools over the years: St. Agnus in Butler, St. John’s Lutheran in Lannon, Peace Lutheran in Sussex and a feeder program from Faith Lutheran in Sussex to Lannon’s St. John’s, plus St. James Catholic School from 1954 to 1970 and then again from 1978 to 1988, when it was closed and eliminated.
From these church schools, many of these students went on to a variety of high schools, but a large segment went to Hamilton High.
Recently, a former first grade teacher at St. James, Sussex’s Mrs. Carol Jushka, has been cleaning out her basement office, and among the papers were a series of pictures of the first graders she taught at St. James from 1979 to 1988. These children were about age 5 to 7, but the majority were age 6. Thus, a photo of the ’79-’80 class is 24 years old and today these youngens would be from 40 to 42 years old in 2013.
St. James Catholic Church goes back to a founding in 1846-47. The school got its start in 1954, under Francis Finnegan. The school was built in 1954 for $125,000, and then in 1961 there was a big addition for $240,000. At its peak, there were 350 students in the first through eighth grades, which later added a kindergarten.
Meanwhile, a nun’s convent was built to house the four teaching nuns and their support in 1955 for $75,000.
The building of Templeton Middle School by the Hamilton School District was a death blow to the upper grades after 1968, and in June 1969, the three upper grades were eliminated, and then a year later, the school closed down completely.
It reopened in 1978 as a K-5, and each year, added a grade, with the first graduation of eighth graders in 1981 and the last in 1983, scaling back to five grades.
By 1988, the towel was thrown in again, and the St. James School was closed, as now the vast majority of teachers were not nuns, a departure from its 1954 start.
To build a new church just before the turn of the century, the convent was torn down, with much of the Lannon Stone incorporated into the new church.
Former teacher Carol Jushka and her husband Paul have moved from Sussex to Port Washington.