St. Peter’s College (SPC) Beginnings

You Are Here: St. Peter’s College

St. Peter’s College was founded in 1918 by the LaSallian Brothers from France to provide a Catholic education for the boys who needed education the most. St Peter’s College was located on Main Street where the current city hall and main library is held. The only standing structures left from St. Peter’s College is the Grotto of St. Bernadette’s statue and the banner of St. Peter’s College. 

Grotto of St. Bernadette near the Main Street Public Library and City Hall 

 

Saint Peter’s College opened on September 9, 1918 and was formally dedicated in 1919. The school received the name St. Peter’s, as it was a part of St. Peter’s Church Parish. The word “college” that follows St. Peter’s is not used in the term known as a higher institution of learning; the name college may have been given to the school because the French founders translated collège, which designates a school whose students may range in age from 6 to 16 or older. The brothers bought John Marsh Henshaw’s family home to use for the school for only $20,000; to buy or build a school today would run between $10,000,000 to $20,000,000! The school itself was an all-boys school that centered its curriculum in math, science, English, and religion. 


Rough sketches from Mr. Alfred Landry of both the ground and top floors of SPC 

 

According to Mr. Alfred “Smitty” Landry, a former graduate of St. Peter’s College class of 1942, the first LaSallian brothers came over from France, with their thick French accents. The brothers were so cloistered that their students did not even know their last names. The brothers lived very humble lives, the extent of their social lives consisted of football games and Mass. Living so humbly was a way the LaSallian brothers devoted themselves to God by not having many worldly possessions. 

The founding Christian Brothers from France

 

The school colors were purple and red, and the school song, perhaps written and conducted by Brother Arsenius, was “Hurrah, St. Peter’s Dear.” The tuition was the grand sum of $1.50 per month, with an additional monthly amount added if a student was in the band and if he took typing. The yearbook The Panther was published in 1937 but discontinued in 1941 because of higher costs during WWII. Publication resumed after the war ended.

Schools during this time had eleven grades, and it was only later that a twelfth grade was added. Students studied religion, English, spelling, arithmetic, history, geography, and penmanship. Mr. Landry recollects that his father sent him to summer school for penmanship. Students used the Baltimore Catechism beginning in the first grade and had it memorized by the time they reached fifth grade.  In the higher grades, students had to memorize the previous Sunday’s gospel and be ready to recite it verbatim by Monday in class. Freshman and sophomores also learned algebra, typing, and French. Juniors took bookkeeping and chemistry. In the senior year, students took physics, trigonometry, plane and solid geometry, and aviation. Mr. Landry stated, “When the senior year was over, we took the aviation test to be licensed as having completing ground school.” He also added this memory about the subjects he studied at SPC: “We had weekly tests, usually every Friday, but in my eleven years in school, I do not remember being given the luxury of a multiple choice test or a true-false test.”

The first graduating class of SPC in 1922

 

Every week at St. Peter’s College began with an assembly on the front porch of the school. Each class stood together for the raising of the flag and trumpet salute of school colors. The principal stood on a platform in front of the students giving announcements for the week then dismissed students to class. Once in class, every half hour, a student rang a bell on his desk to begin a prayer. Traditionally, the prayer would begin with, “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God,” followed by a Hail Mary.

A few students in St. Peter’s weekly morning assembly 

Although St. Peter’s College has been open for several decades, the students continued the regular activities: Friday night football games, watching movies, or simply hanging out with each other. Being an all-male school, the boys would toss around erasers, paper airplanes, and played tricks with the brothers. Their relationships grew as the brothers not only taught the boys, but also coached them in their sports. 


SPC Football team of 1941

 

SPC Basketball team of 1927

 

Although St. Peter’s closed to move to the new location, the current Catholic High School, St. Peter’s is continuously remembered. Many traditions of Catholic High School are rooted from both St. Peter’s College and Mount Carmel Academy, the all-female school. The students of CHS wear a visible reminder each day: the school crest. In the school crest, both SPC and MCA are honored by the symbols within the four chambers. In the chambers include the crown for our Lady of Mount Carmel, the keys of St. Peter’s, the star of the Christian Brother’s faith, and an “NI” for New Iberia. Even after 100 years of opening St. Peter’s, both school roots will never be forgotten.

The current crest of CHS 

 

References

Gary, Allyson. Catholic High School. 2012. Photograph. Private Collection.

Hebert, Jamie. Personal Interview. 18 Jan. 2012.

Landry, Alfred “Smity.” Personal Interview. 20 March 2012.

Segura, Eugenie. “This is CHS.” English III. Catholic High School. New Iberia, Louisiana. 19 Jan. 2012.

 

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