EVANSVILLE, INDIANA — Sixty-four different classes have graduated from the brick building on Herndon Drive in Evansville. St. Theresa Catholic School’s class of 2015’s graduation Thursday would be its very last.
For eighth-grade student and new graduate Cameron Ellison, going to school has been a family affair.
“I have a cousin here today,” he said. “I had a cousin graduate from here.”
But at St. Theresa, family isn’t just defined by blood.
“Everyone that’s been here is my family,” Ellison said. “I’m close to every single one of them.”
“It’s brother-sister,” St. Theresa Principal Nancy Mills said. “You have your little quarrels and fights, but we always end it with communication and it’s a wonderful place.”
St. Theresa was founded in 1947, with the first class graduating in 1951. Now almost 70 years later, the doors will once again close for summer vacation, but this time, they won’t be opening again.
“Tradition, tradition, tradition,” Mills said. “You can just walk in the school and feel the tradition here.”
Mills said declining enrollment was the driving force behind the school’s closure. Friday morning, on the last day of school, students, teachers, parents and alumni came out for the school’s annual field day and to celebrate the school’s storied history.
“Our eighth graders are taking it the toughest because they have been here the longest,” Mills said. “And I think they feel the pressure of being the last graduating class from St. Theresa.”
“I felt very honored to graduate after the many alumni have left us and I just want to fulfill the legacy they’ve left before me,” Ellison said.
One of the alumni from the class of 2001, Bryce Fonner, came back to St. Theresa three years ago as a teacher.
“When I was here, we just had chalkboards,” he said “Now we have smart boards.”
But some things have never changed.
“It’s always felt like a family atmosphere here,” he said.
Ellison will be moving on to Memorial High School in the fall, and while St. Theresa Catholic School will be gone by then, the St. Theresa family will not.
“It’s going to be hard saying goodbye to these people, but the bond we have is always going to be there,” he said.