Sharing a collective memory: St. Dominic School celebrates 60 years

HUMBOLDT — Sixty years ago, a separate Catholic school was built in the southern part of Humboldt to service a rapidly growing population.

St. Dominic School named itself after two Dominics. One, St. Dominic, was a Spanish priest who lived from 1170 to 1221, who founded the Dominican Order. The other was Fr. Dominic Hoffmann, who was assigned to churches in Annaheim, Watson and Humboldt.

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According to A Time to Remember, a history book about the school, St. Dominic opened on Aug. 24, 1959 with 114 students.

Murray Kopp was one of those students. In 1959, he was in Grade 7, being taught by Sister Melanie Limacher, who was also the first principal.

“There was four classrooms. That’s it,” he said at the school’s 60th anniversary celebration on Oct. 26. “There were five or six boys, or five or six girls in each class.”

Annette Cales, who was in Grade 4 in 1959 and being taught by Agnes Casey, said there were two grades per class.

“The school has really improved and expanded,” she said. “We had a library that was two rows of books, probably eight by eight. The principal's office was on the other side of the library.”
Cales pointed out some of the new facilities built since she left the school.

“We didn't have a gym, so having the gym for the kids is awesome and the library is great,” she said.

Kopp remembered the recesses.

“One of the things we had was a rink and the boys were able to go out and flood the ice and take care of it,” he said. He then recalled how his team defeated St. Augustine School, as well as playing ball in non-winter weather.

Cales said the school back in 1959 was more of a country school.

“The teachers were awesome. Nestor Trach has always been my favorite teacher and I have always kept in touch with him.”

Trach taught the Grade 5/6 class in 1959 and was the fourth principal of the school. He was the longest to serve in that role, from 1967 to 1992.

Due to an illness, Trach wasn’t able to be at the 60th anniversary. The mass that marked the occasion was offered to him, as was the prayers of the attendees.

Chad Knaus, the 10th and current principal, told the mass he’s been at the school for seven years.

“The moment I walked through the doors here, I just felt there was something special about St. Dominic School. This place is warm, welcoming, caring,” he said.

“This amazing journey started 60 years ago and we're going to commit to be rooted in faith, growing in knowledge, and reaching out to transform the world.”

Fr. Joseph Salihu with the St. Augustine Parish talked about the importance of memory during his address at the mass.

“You share a collective memory of 60 years, of staff, students, a whole amount of employees of the school,” he said. “As we reflect on this memory, we are reminded of who we are, individually and collectively. St. Dominic shapes who we are.”
Salihu ended the mass with blessing the school.

Principals

  • Melanie Limacher 1959-60
  • Jerome Pulvermacher 1960-62
  • Walter Germann 1962-67
  • Nestor Tratch 1967-92
  • Dennis Bergerman 1992-96
  • Michael Suchan 1996-97
  • Malcolm Eaton 1997-2006
  • Dennis Spence 2006-15
  • Dallas Puto 2015-17
  • Chad Knaus 2017-2019
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