Holy Family has deep roots in area

Published 12:07 am Sunday, May 18, 2008

NATCHEZ — Katie Moore is a product of Holy Family Catholic School.

She went to school at Holy Family from kindergarten through sixth grade.

She began her teaching career in 1975 and joined Holy Family’s faculty four years ago, a homecoming of sorts.

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She started off working in the computer lab and for the past three years she’s been teaching third grade.

“It’s been great,” she said. “It’s brought back memories.”

For the first three years, she even worked alongside a teaching sister that taught Moore when she was in school.

Moore has nothing but positive things to say about the school — how the cafeteria workers open their arms for children to run into, how the teachers share everything, how everybody knows everybody else.

“I was devastated to hear it was going to close,” she said. “Not for my benefit, but for the children.”

She’s not worried about job security, what she’ll do next year or where the income will be coming from.

She’s worried about the 57 children who will not be able to return to Holy Family next year.

Most children will wind up joining the public school system, she said.

Cynthia Williams, PTA member, said two of her children will still be able to attend the school next year, but her oldest will be going to public school.

PTA member Margaret Kafperski said she does not want to see her granddaughter go into the public school system.

“I will not put (her) in public school but I can’t afford Cathedral School,” she said.

LaDonna Moore, a Holy Family parent, said she will continue keeping her daughter in parochial school, despite the increase in tuition.

“I have no choice but to go to Cathedral,” LaDonna said. “Between Cathedral and public school, I want to keep her in a private setting.”

Losing a piece of history

Williams’ children are the fifth generation to attend Holy Family.

“My grandmother, grandfather, great grandparents all went to Holy Family,” she said. “With them closing, we’re losing out.”

Ernest “Tony” Fields was the second generation to go to Holy Family and his son is the third generation.

Fields said the biggest thing he established at his six years at Holy Family was a foundation.

“When I did switch to public school, I was definitely ready,” he said. “I felt like when I did come to public school what we were doing we had really already covered at Holy Family.”

He said he learned things outside the academic realm as well.

“It was a very structured atmosphere,” he said. “We were very disciplined, we went to mass, we learned religious (lessons), it was well rounded.”

He said his son will attend kindergarten at Holy Family, then switch to public school.

“It was already in the plan that he would come to public school in the first grade,” Fields said.

But that doesn’t mean Fields isn’t upset to see four grades lost.

“It’s just a shame to lose a school like that,” he said.

LaDonna Moore went to Holy Family from 1972-1974 and she said it was natural for her to send her daughter to the school.

“She really excelled,” she said of her daughter’s time at the school.

She said she hates to see the school lose grades one through four.

“It was a heart-breaking decision,” she said. “All of that’s going to be lost and to me it’s part of history, so why would you shut that down?”

The school’s overall enrollment has been steadily declining since the late 60s when the grades were whittled down from preschool through 12th grade to only preschool through sixth grade. In 2001 when Principal Rosa Demby took over, it had dropped to only preschool through second grade, but Demby worked to add back the third and fourth grades.

Demby had planned on retiring from Holy Family in May of 2008 since she took the job.

“I was hoping with all my hard work that it would be a thriving school when I left,” Demby said.

“I’m glad I was here to do what I could do,” she said.