Woman organizing Ursuline reunion

Monday, July 29, 2002

It is always a challenge to organize a class reunion. People scatter, addresses are lost, and classmates just lose contact with one another.

Loretto Shy Alexander of New Madrid, Mo., has a harder job. She's trying to organize a school reunion for a school that no longer exists, the Ursuline Academy, an all-girls' boarding and day school in Arcadia, Mo.

"There is no longer even an alumni association," Alexander said.

But she has made some headway. She tracked down an old alumnae list from the 1950s from a friend in St. Louis. From that list, she has sent out 450 invitations.

"I knew a lot of those addresses would no longer be valid for contacting people, but it was the only thing I knew to do," said Alexander. She also talked the St. Louis Post-Dispatch into running an article about the reunion. Between the two, she has started getting some responses.

"I've probably heard from about 100 people now," said Alexander. That includes people who also attended the St. Joseph's Grade School, which was located on the same grounds as the academy.

Alexander says this reunion has become a bit of a mission to her. She's found that contacts with people that she didn't even actually go to school with have become important to her.

"I've talked to people on the telephone and even corresponded to people through the Internet that went to the school. Not all of them went to the school at the same time as me, but I've found that we have a bond with each other because we share many of the same memories," Alexander said.

She attended the academy from 1955 to 1959, but the school was open from 1877 to 1971.

"There are many people who lived part of their lives there, and I would like to find as many of them as possible," Alexander said.

The reunion has been set for Oct. 5 and 6.

A few years ago, the Oyler family bought the property and has turned the academy into a bed and breakfast.

Alexander says it has been with the help of the Oyler family that she has organized the reunion.

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