Graduating Class of 1933
( Click image to enlarge photo )
Pictured above are the graduates of Xavier University Preparatory School of 1933. All students’ names are listed but unfortunately they are listed only in alphabetical order. Hopefully, many of you will be able to recognize family members and friends of long ago.
Albert Arceneaux, Robert Aubry, Robert Balthazar, Lenora Barrow, Onelia Bazanac, Vallie Bryant, Euphemia Cappie, Olive Charles, Alice Colin, Paul Colin, Claude Dapremont, Marjorie Darensbourg, Odile Darensbourg, Olga Dauphine, Emma Davis, Warren Davis, Bithella Davis, Nathaniel Dominique, Daniska DuCong, Alice Dungey, Walter Ellis, Louise Ellsworth, Mildred Fauria, Euphemie Fortune, Hildred Fortune, Stella Fritz, Dorothy Gaudet, Allen Hamilton, Sterling Jacobs, Elva Jones, Richard King, Marie Andree Lawrence, Elise Leonor, Bernice Lewis, Cornelia Lewis, Annabelle Louge, Alfred Marvray, Camille Perrin, Edna Ricard, Leona Rousseve, Leonie Rousseve, Onelia Sayas, Thomas Taylor, Rosalie Taylor, Mary Agnes Terrell, George Thompson, Eloise Touchard, Lucille Tureaud, Jonald Walker.
It all began in the month of September, 1915. Aware of the serious lack of Catholic-oriented education available to young blacks in the South, Mother Katharine Drexel (now Saint Katharine Drexel) came to New Orleans with the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to establish a high school on the site previously occupied by Southern University.
Registration took place on September 13 with 50 students enrolled. By the end of that week, 200 students had entered the doors of “Southern University” under the patronage of St. Francis Xavier. Mother Katharine had arrived in New Orleans on September 11,1915 to supervise the proceedings. Grades 8, 9, and 10 were taught at first. During registration many students pleaded with Mother to open up an 11th grade which she did. New teachers were needed within the first month. The sisters worked very hard moving desks, getting classrooms ready, and assisting the workmen whenever possible.
Finally, opening day, September 27, 1915 came and it was a great success. Two days later, storm weather approached and a major hurricane with winds up to 120 miles per hour had arrived. By noon, the chimney had blown off the school but the Sisters continued to teach for most of the day. The rain was coming in onto the floors of the school and students were finally dismissed when the winds subsided. Many schools were closed for weeks after the hurricane but St. Francis Xavier was closed for only one day!!
In May of 1916, the school’s name was officially changed to Xavier University. In 1917, a two year Normal School was added for the purpose of training young people to become teachers. By 1925, Xavier University became a reality when the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences was established. Recognizing the need for a special identity and room to expand, Mother Katharine in 1929 bought a tract of land on Palmetto and Pine in uptown New Orleans. By 1933, the university had its own campus. The high school on Magazine Street was changed to Xavier High School. Then in 1932, the school’s name officially became Xavier University Preparatory School.
The class photo(shown above) from 1933 is one of the earliest I have been able to find. Yearbooks appear not to exist, only class photos for the 1920’s-1930’s and maybe 1940’s for Xavier U. Preparatory. This class photo is from my personal family collection but, based on my research, Xavier University’s Archival Department has the most extensive collection in the city of early records on the”Prep”.
Sources: Xavier University Preparatory School 75th Anniversary Book (1915-1990); www.xula.edu/about-xavier/history.php; Class Photo of 1933(personal family collection); 17th Annual Commencement Program- Xavier Preparatory 1933 (personal family collection).
Lolita V. Cherrie