Faced with dwindling financial resources as downtown Orlando’s population shifted from families to senior citizens on fixed income, Saint James School Principal Blanka Roberts literally turned off the lights in the school hallways to save money. Roberts proved to be an outstanding leader through the lowest point in the school’s history to date. She tenaciously embraced the American virtues of thrift and ingenuity to do all she could to keep St. James School open for future generations.
Like Father David Page, St. James Cathedral Pastor (1972-1986), who led St. James through a bleak period in Orlando’s history, when businesses closed and breadlines grew downtown, Blanka Roberts prudently believed the economic situation at the school to be temporary. She and Father Page worked together to find ways to keep St. James School open through the dismal economic times.
In this excerpt from an oral history interview on March 26, 2011, St. James parishioner Tom Wilkes discusses the teamwork, inspiration and leadership which brought St. James School forward to a period of growth and restoration as St. James became the school where everyone wanted their child.
Commemorative Booklet for the St. James School Gala Event of the Year! Scholarship Dinner - Dance, Friday November 5, 1976 at the Carlton House Resort Hotel, 6515 International Drive. Includes letter from the Pastor of St. James Church, Father David Page, outlining the purpose of the event is to provide scholarships funds for students, an "investment in the youth" of our community. A history of St. James School, "St. James School: The Past" begins on page 8. Jack Hardin, General Manager of the Carlton House Resort Hotel gave all the facilities of the hotel for the event at no cost. Arline Benedetti did the banquet decorating. Scholarship donors and patrons are listed by name including many area businesses such as the George Stuart Foundation, Southern Fruit Distributors, Inc. Blue Bird Brand Citrus Products. Last page of the booklet gives a history of George Stuart, Inc. with a photo of George L. Stuart, Sr. September 4, 1905 - January 11, 1976. Photos of school staff and scholarship committee begins on page 10.