St. Joseph School of Slaton, Texas was established in 1921 by the Sisters of Mercy and is the oldest school in this diocese that has survived six wars, depressions, a cyclone, and a school burning. We are an elementary and middle school, grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The first school was held in the old wooden church building, while Father Keller was pastor. It consisted of two classrooms with living quarters for the Sisters in the back of the classrooms. Sister Mary Imelda and Sister Mary Berchman were the first Sisters to teach in Slaton.
The second school was erected in June, 1926, under the direction of Father French. It was frame stucco 60ft by 56 ft. There was an office, a large hall and four large classrooms. Three rooms were used for grade school and one for high school, the eighth and ninth grades. Sister Richard Marie and Sister Mary Oddo, Franciscan Sisters taught high school classes with Father O’Brien teaching Spanish I and II. This school cared for 140 children and cost $6,000. The lumber from the second church was used in the construction, with parishioners doing most of the work. A new roof was put on in 1932, costing $175. New desks maps, etc. were bought in 1928, costing about $250. Gas heaters and plumbing for gas were installed in 1928, costing about $250. On September 21, 1931, the church was blown down by a cyclone, and the school was used for a church from September 1931 until it was destroyed by fire in May 1956, only one week prior to the end of school. Sisters of Mercy staffed the school from 1921 until 1925, when Refuge Sisters from Mexico came, remaining for only a week. Two years late Franciscan Sisters from Oldenburg, Indiana came to serve until May 1933, when Sisters of Mercy came again from Stanton and they remained until 1978. Over the years St. Joseph School has been home to different communities of Sisters such as Sisters of Mercy, Franciscan Sisters, Refuge Sisters, Missionary Sisters of the Lord’s Table, and the most recent Sisters of Notre Dame who came to St. Joseph School in 2014.
Building of the third and present school, under the direction of the Rt. Rev. D. O’Brien, was completed in August, 1956. It was designed by Hugh Dryer, Lubbock architect. The exterior of the building originally had light buff face brick and green pre-colored stucco above the windows and under the canopy. A relief design was worked in deep blue green. Present day, the building still remains with light buff face brick, but with white washed stucco. The interior walls are painted concrete block, with ceramic tile wainscots in the corridors and restrooms. It consists of four large classrooms, library, an office, auditorium/cafeteria, kitchen, two storage rooms and four bathrooms. The building cost over $100,000 in 1956 and was completed without any debt incurred.
Over the last five years the school as a whole has improved and excelled in all areas. St. Joseph has consistently performed well in Private School Interscholastic Association (PSIA) competitions, from calculators to ready-writing, spelling be and science fair, affording our students valuable interaction with other private school students throughout the region. St. Joseph students also are able to participate in choir, chess club, and theatre arts.
The administration and board members are humbled by the dedication of the faculty, staff, students, and parents at St. Joseph School. St. Joseph School has been able to offer a lower tuition rate than other parochial schools in the surrounding area due to generous benefactors, its parish, and its efforts in fundraising. In 2015, St. Joseph School held its largest fundraiser, the 46th Annual Sausage Festival. This fundraiser is the main source of income for operations for St. Joseph School. St. Joseph’s German Sausage Fest started in 1969 with a 200-year-old recipe from Austria belonging to Marie Bednarz. The recipe was increased for the Slaton festival. The first year 524 pounds of German sausage were made. In 2011, 8000 pounds were made and jalapeños were added to about 1,000 pounds of sausage as a test run. In 2015, 8,000 pounds of sausage were made, and we increased to 2000 pounds of jalapeño sausage, and 800 pounds of habanero sausage.
In the year 2021, St. Joseph will celebrate its 100th Anniversary, crowning 100 years of forming Christ Witnesses in the world. St. Joseph Catholic School is accredited by the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.