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South Texas Living

Being a part of Sacred Heart School

Being a part of Sacred Heart School
Sacred Heart School vintage jacket

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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
February 13, 2013
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Sacred Heart School just finished celebrating Catholic Schools Week, as did other Catholic schools in the country. Sacred Heart School is also celebrating its 80th year of existence. For 25 of those 80 years, minus three months, our family was a part of Sacred Heart School. That’s not counting the eight years that Henry spent there. From the time that our oldest child, Letty, entered first grade to the time Lia graduated from eighth grade in 1984, Henry and I had children enrolled at Sacred Heart School continuously. That’s enough time to make a lot of memories.

In my early years as a mother, I wasn’t able to help out much in activities or fund-raisers at Sacred Heart School because I had too many little ones to take care of, but as they got older I was able to get more involved. I am proud to have served as treasurer of the Parent-Teacher Club (PTC) while Carolyn Wright was president. In later years I served as president myself.

I remember the camaraderie among the mothers as we got together at the hall for many years to make peanut brittle to sell at the Peanut Festival. Each class, which meant the mothers of course, was responsible for making 50 pounds. Since we had children in several classes, I got to help more. If you had a child at Sacred Heart School you learned to make peanut brittle. One mother, Adelina, has since then made a name for herself with her award-winning peanut brittle, which is auctioned off at the Peanut Festival.

Then there were the drill teams, which consisted of Junior and Senior teams for both boys and girls. Gerard “Jerry” Zuñiga was the drill instructor. He was a 1970 graduate of Sacred Heart School. He donated his time with the drill teams because he wanted to give back to the school.

There was a time when enrollment was high and the school participated in sports. The teams called themselves the Sacred Heart Panthers and they competed with other schools in the archdiocese. My late sister-in-law, Alice Estrada “Pilár” had saved a jacket from those days and gave it to me several years ago with a bunch of other jackets. I kept it for sentimental reasons. I remember going to HemisFair ’68 with a group of mothers. Some psychic had predicted that something terrible was going to happen on that day, and it had to do with the Tower of the Americas. We were taking only the older children. Of our children I believe only Louie and Larry went. I made them promise that they would not try to go to the top of the tower because of the prediction. Once there, some of the mothers decided to disregard the warning, or never really believed it, and decided to ride the elevator to the deck. I thought, “I can do this.” And I did. Of course Louie and Larry were not happy about it. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t let them do it but I did. All I could tell them was that I wanted to keep them safe.

And then there were the Valentine Festivals on a much larger scale. They were an all-day affair, culminating with the coronation in the evening. And the entertainment that followed was nothing short of a Hollywood extravaganza. For several years Jerry Sikkema coordinated the events and served as Master of Ceremonies. Frank was once the Prince at one of the coronations, and Lia was the Princess at another one.

And I remember the presence of the sisters for so many years. My favorite of all time was Sister James. She was Lia’s favorite too.

Sacred Heart School had its own annual picnic for several years. It was in October, on or around the Feast of Christ the King. (Since then the feast has been moved to November.) In the late ’70s Sacred Heart School came close to being closed down. One year, the school was denied access to the parish grounds for its fall fund-raiser. So it was moved downtown, and thanks to the city of Floresville it was a huge success. And the school kept its doors open, although its closing would not have been because of financial problems.

By the late ’80s the school faced a shortage of enrollment and consequently, funds. There was a lack of interest in the community for Catholic education. The upper grades were eliminated until the highest grade was fifth grade, which is where it stands today. However, Catholic education is making a comeback and Sacred Heart School is experiencing an increase in enrollment in its 80th year. The current principal, Patty Barber, has said that Sacred Heart School is like a hidden pearl in our community. She is doing everything in her power to make parents in the surrounding area discover this pearl. Henry and I still support Sacred Heart School to some extent because of our grandchildren that have been attending it for the past 12 years.

May the Lord continue to bless Sacred Heart School with dedicated administrators, parents, and benefactors. Father Phil Henning has been totally supportive of the school. With the world in such a sad state of affairs, I would say Sacred Heart School is needed now more than ever.

Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry. Her email is

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