Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School opened in 1901 with an initial enrollment of 40 children. Two Sisters of Divine Providence came from Our Lady of the Lake Convent in San Antonio to take charge of the students. Sister M. Robertine and Sister M. Clementine were the first teachers at our OLPH School. The priest at the time was Rev. J.M. Wack, of New Braunfels’ Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, and the Bishop was Rt. Rev. J.A. Forest. OLPH was a mission of Sts. Peter and Paul until 1909.
From all accounts, life in Selma was not easy. Students walked long distances to get to school and they arrived on schedule. The lucky ones had a donkey or horse to ride. Once at school they had to assist with chores before studies began. They had to carry in the firewood for the stove and sweep the floors in the classrooms as there were no hired maintenance people. Everyone pitched in to take care of the needs of the school.
Mrs. Bertha Stautzengerger tells of driving five miles over gravel roads and paths to school on the horse and buggy with her brothers and sisters. When the highway was being developed, the horse was frightened by the steam roller. The construction crew had to take the horse by the bridle and guide him through the area.
After school children did not go off to ball practice or dance lessons. Instead, they went home to do their farm chores such as milk cows, work in the fields, and feed the chickens. Everyone had an important part in their family responsibilities as well as in their parish family.
These first students spoke mostly German and wrote their lessons on slates, paper was not plentiful. They did not wear uniforms in the early days. In fact, Mr. ALois Riedel tells of coming to school barefooted and wearing knee pants.
After graduation from OLPH in the years up to the 1950s, students had to travel into San Antonio for high school – public or Catholic. Beginning in about 1940 a bus company, The Randolph Field Transportation System, provided service for the high school students as well as for the employees of Randolph Air Force Base. Some of OLPH graduates went to Alamo Heights High, St. Gerard’s, San Antonio Tech, Brackenridge, St. Mary’s, Central Catholic, Incarnate Word, Ursuline, and Providence. It took a dedicated effort and family support to continue with education, just as it does today.