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It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

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.

 

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Blanka Roberts, Principal of Saint James School
1983 photo of Saint James School Principal  Blanka Roberts, left, with Saint James Cathedral parishioners Fran Krehl and Frank Sevick at the...
Blanka Roberts Celebrates 25 Years as Saint James School Principal
Blanka Roberts  slices the cake as admiring students look on at the  1983  anniversary celebration honoring her 25 years of service to...
Blanka Roberts Celebrates 25 Years as Saint James School Principal
"Thank you Blanka " is the message on the anniversary cake for Blanka Roberts honoring her 25 years of service to the school...
Blanka Roberts Celebrates 25 Years as Saint James School Principal
1983 photo of Saint James School Principal  Blanka Roberts, center,  at an anniversary celebration honoring  her 25 years of  outs...
Saint James Cathedral School
1983 photo of Saint  James   School Principal  Blanka  Roberts, left, with Saint  James  School  teacher  Fran...
Saint James Cathedral School

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.




Fran Abeel, St. James Cathedral School

Fran Abeel worked at St. James School on Ridgewood Avenue in downtown Orlando  from 1948 to 1975. In this 7  minute  excerpt from an oral history interview at Saint James Cathedral on September 3rd, 2011 she details the improvements and  expansion  of  the school  as the needs of the Orlando community have changed through the years. 




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St. James School Gala Event of the Year!

 

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.     

 


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