By Judy Brazil
Stella Maris in Trepassey became a central high school in September of 1963. The Principal was Sister M. Ephren Johnson. For the first year (1963-64) the building was not ready for occupancy and school was held in the Convent and auditorium of the Holy Redeemer Church. The enrolment was approximately 125. The Staff then included Stella Devereaux and Margaret Curtis and Sisters Ephren Johnson, Hildegarde Doyle and Benedicta Burt.
The first school year for Stella Maris was 1964-65 when it officially opened its doors and served students from the communities of Portugal Cove South, Biscay Bay, St. Shott’s and Trepassey. The staff included Marie McNeil, Stella Devereaux, Margaret Winter, and Sisters Dympna Bishop and Hildegarde Doyle with an enrolment of approximately 130 students. Father Frank J. Mullowney, who was the Parish Priest back then, was the driving force behind its construction.
In 1971, Holy Redeemer Elementary (K-6) was built and in 2002 was consolidated with Stella Maris Central High, which today is called Stella Maris Academy (K – 12) and under the Eastern School District.
Many things have changed within these 50 years and most especially the school’s population. At its peak approximately 37 years ago, when the Trepassey fish plant was in full operation, we had approximately 750 students in total from K – 12 (both schools combined). Today we have 42 from K-12. The new Gymnasium, which was officially opened in May of 1991, is decorated with numerous Provincial banners for various sports, but especially basketball. Ted Winter, a former teacher originally from Clarkes Beach, introduced the sport in the year 1966 when he first began teaching at Stella Maris. He was only 17 years old when he arrived to teach,”still receiving the baby-bonus,” as he quoted at one time. Winter was later labelled the “Father of Basketball” and Trepassey was referred to as the ‘Basketball Town.’
If there was anything good that came out of all this, the most rewarding was the bonding friendships among the many teams and coaches, who still today, get together to reminisce and laugh about by-gone days.
Not only in the field of Sports did SMA excel, but students also received many provincial and regional awards for drama productions, Speak-Offs, poetry, artwork, heritage projects, and the list goes on.
A large number of students who finished school, branched out into the world to further their education and work skills, ending up in all parts of the country and beyond. Stella Maris produced many wonderful students who have been very successful in all types of careers, which speaks volumes of the calibre of teaching they received throughout the years.
This year Stella Maris will mark its 50 years in operation. Celebrations are planned for July 10, 11 and 12th in Trepassey. Excitement fills the air as we eagerly await to see many of our former students and teachers along with their families and Friends. We will begin on a Friday evening with the official opening ceremony at 6:00 PM and this will run into Sunday with the Cemetery Mass, Brunch and closing ceremony. During this weekend, there are plenty of activities planned for both young and old alike. We have basketball, a 10 KM run/walk, Kitchen Party, outdoor festival and dance, a great variety of children’s activities including a magician, bouncy castle, etcetera. All this of course is weather permitting. We will have a substitute venue for most activities. A wonderful and active committee has been formed to help prepare for this big event and I feel quite confident it will be a great success. All we need is good weather with plenty of Alumni back home with us, and plenty of visitors to help us celebrate.
We need to spread the word to the general public with the hope that many of our former students, teachers and staff will hear about it and decide to visit us for a weekend of reminiscing, music, laughter and fun. One highlight of the opening ceremonies will be to acknowledge a very prominent ex-resident - a former student who many years ago accomplished something we can all be proud of –and what better time to do this, than at our 50th Anniversary Celebration.
We have many ex-students who are now gone, but will never be forgotten. We plan to do a Memory Wall with their photos and names. But we need help from family members and friends. We need a photos (5x7 preferred) with the name, date of birth and date deceased, submitted to us as soon as possible. This cannot work without your help, as it is impossible for us to remember everyone.
For more information and to keep up with what’s on the go, follow our facebook page, Stella Maris 50th Anniversary as periodically we will be updating our postings. Or you can call the school 438-2361 or email Judy Brazil at the school’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org