Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon!
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Jeannie (Lambert) Courchene
Class of 1960
Class of 2016
Class of 1983
A Heart for Service
Jeannie Courchene (Lambert) has spent a lot of time in school. A member of the first graduating class of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School, the hours she has spent in the classroom dedicated first to her own education and then to the education of countless students is truly impressive. The story of her beginning and where she is today is engaging and inspiring.
Jeannie began at Sts. Peter and Paul in the fifth grade but she and her classmates were already leaders since they were the oldest grade the school had at the time. Their teacher, Sister Patriciana, OP, was also the principal. They had that same set up for fifth, sixth, and eighth grade. In seventh grade, they were allowed to have their classes further from the principal’s office with a lay teacher. But by the end of the year they had gone through two teachers! So Sister Patriciana, OP resumed teaching the class the final year.
Jeannie shared many fond memories of her time at SPPS. One was the ski program. Once a week in the winter, students would have the option to go skiing in Winter Park, with the parents driving. Of course, studies continued, so those participating were responsible for making up any work they missed. Another special memory involves the selection of a mascot for the school. Sister Patriciana, OP, being of Irish descent, wanted the mascot to be the Celtics. But the students disagreed. The school color had already been chosen (Irish green), so they did their research to find a green mascot. They came up with a green dragon, linked with St. George’s dragon. Concerned that any vote they held might be vetoed, they were able to get the principal to agree that Father McMahon, the pastor, would count the votes in the presence of the students. The dragon was chosen overwhelmingly. As did many students, Jeannie benefited from the musical talents of Betty Dunn, one of the two Dunns who taught with the “nuns” when the school opened. Mrs. Dunn taught Jeannie piano and organ and her skills were frequently put to use playing for Requiem Masses. Notably, the school continues to honor the legacy of Mrs. Dunn, giving the Betty Dunn Fine Arts Award to a deserving 8th grader each year.
Graduating from Sts. Peter and Paul in 1960, Jeannie continued her education at Marycrest Girls High School. From there she went on to Loretto Heights College. Once she was married, she and her husband, Bruce, relocated to St. Louis, where Jeannie dedicated herself to a teaching career, teaching high school math. And when her husband retired and they returned to the Denver area, she took on being principal at St. Rose of Lima as her retirement job! The greatest lesson she learned at SPPS was to place the talents you have been given at the service of others for the greater honor and glory of God. In a particular way, Jeannie has done this through her involvement with the University of Notre Dame’s Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI), an organization that assists Catholic schools in attracting and serving Latino families. She continues to serve with LEI as well as on the St. Rose of Lima School Development Board.
Bruce passed away in 2019. Jeannie has tremendous love for their three children and eight grandchildren. She credits much of the value she places on her family to the example of Father MacMahon during her time at Sts. Peter and Paul. And the friendships she made at SPPS have been lasting even to this day.
Written by Sister Mary Louise, OCD
Sharing the Love of Christ
Maria Capone spent a decade of her life at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School. And in the short seven years since she graduated, she has begun to make a huge impact on the world. One of the founding members of Christ in the City in Philadelphia, she shared that one life lesson she learned during her time at SPPS was to be kind. That is certainly something she puts into practice on a daily basis as she engages in “knowing, loving and serving the poor.”
One of the individuals who stand out to Maria from her elementary school is Sister Faustina, OCD who was her 4th grade teacher. “(It) was easy to be
invested in her class because of how gentle she was in guiding us,” Maria shared. She credits all the sisters at the school with influencing where she is
in life today. In her own words, “The sisters really helped me to know my faith and which led me to know and have a relationship with Jesus.” Those lessons seem to have taken deep root as Maria identifies her greatest accomplishment in
life as “learning to love until it hurts.”
That relationship with Jesus and through Him to others began to bear fruit even during her time at SPPS. Many students talk about the joys of school
activities, especially field day at the end of each year. But Maria has a slightly different take on the day. She remembers it as special not just for
the joy it brought her personally, but for a much greater reason: “Nothing beats my memories of field day. It was so good and unitive to have a day to just have fun together.” Interestingly, her childhood experience at field day seems to have been a prelude to her service with Christ in the City as part of their mission is to be loved by God and love those around them.
But Maria also credits another sister with a significant role in her formation. Brianna was Maria’s youth group leader and later joined the Poor Clares in Roswell, NM. Now Sister Maria Antonia of the Holy Wounds of Jesus, “she is the person that really taught (Maria) the love my Lord has for me and showed me the beauty of loving Him back with all that I am.” A lesson the SPPS
graduate puts into practice on a daily basis.
This young missionary has a message for the current families at Sts. Peter and Paul, and it resonates with truth and simplicity: love the poor. She ended her sharing with a simple request, “Pray for me as I begin my second year with Christ in the City.” Be assured of our prayers for you, Maria, as you continue to spread the love of Christ with our friends on the streets of Philadelphia!
Written by Sister Mary Louise, OCD
Learning Life Lessons
Denise DeNuzzi attended Sts. Peter and Paul school from 1979 to 1983. Her time at the school was one of a kind. She recalled many memories, from the 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. to ski Friday’s. But her most cherished memories involved friends, many of which she still keeps in contact with today. Her friends weren’t the only ones that affected her time there though. Quite a few teachers made a lasting impression on her as well. “Sister Michelle is the best principal EVER,” she said. Mrs. Wekle, Ms. Adams, Ms. Paprocki, and Sister Mary Catherine were a few other honorable mentions that made her time at SPPS more fun.
Her time at the school wasn’t all fun and games though. It was inspiring as well. Sts. Peter and Paul taught her quite a few life lessons that she still lives by today. It was at the school that she learned of the power of prayer. She learned to always be honest and kind with those around you. This encouraged her to walk down a path of being a helper and making a difference every day. Currently, Denise is a Deputy with Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. “I love my job and feel I am making a safer place doing what most people won’t.” Her greatest accomplishment thus far, though, is being a cancer survivor. God gives His toughest battles to his toughest warriors, and that couldn’t be more true with Denise. However, she wasn’t alone. Her brother has been her biggest supporter. He is her best friend and her hero. ” I am truly honored to have him as my brother.”
Her love for the school has only continued to grow, even after graduating. She is very much looking forward to her class reunion in June of 2023. With the many changes the school has gone through since her attendance there, and the changes that will continue to occur, she wants to encourage SPPS families to honor SPPS traditions. “It has always been a great institution and will continue to be if they don’t try to change history.
Written by Annaliese Reed