St. Johann Elementary School was located in the village of St. Johann in the District of Pongau. The city was located in an imposing valley through which ran the main highway and rail connections between the eastern and western sections of Austria.
The school was designated as a kindergarten through eighth grade school but did not have all grades each year. The principal for the school in 1952-53 was Sybil Rutherford. The school had four students, two fifth graders and two seventh graders.
In 1953-54 the teaching principal was Katherine L. Stimac. She taught grades four to eight and there was a teacher for kindergarten and one for grades one to three. The military provided health services including dentistry to the school. They also provided school supply services.
The school was opened in 1953 and closed in 1955.
The 1952-53 combined Austrian yearbook gave a description of the area.
St. Johann is located in the Lower Tauern Mountain branch of the eastern Alps. It was first directly mentioned in the year 930. During the Middle Ages, this district was the scene of bitter religious fighting between the Catholics and Protestants. The immediate surroundings of St. Johann have always been areas of farming and currently the principal means of earning a living remain farming, together with numerous small businesses and trades.
The cattle market is an interesting sight yet. In the fall, as soon as the snow comes to the high mountains, all of the cattle, decorated with autumn mountain flowers and foliage, are brought to the village where they remain until spring. The farmers and butchers have a gala day, bickering and buying, on market day.
On entering this quaint little village at night, one receives a welcome feeling from the lights of the mountain side cottages and ski lift. The lovely old church is a landmark, as is the tradition of almost every town or cluster of homes anywhere in Europe. Its graceful spires tower high above the other buildings. There is much charm among the native people.
The country folk walk for miles to be in church on Sunday and on all special holidays, of which there are many. They come out dressed in full regalia for procession. A special costume is worn for each province. This “winter wonderland” is surrounded by many interesting sights and places of which many true stories and legends have been written. Lueg Pass has a great historical background.
General Napoleon made his way through the pass in spite of the fact that neighboring towns sent men to try to hold off the invader. The fort in the stone wall can be seen today. Werfen Castle is a nearby landmark dated 1077. The peasants became angry because of high taxes and set fire to it. After peace was restored, the archbishop imprisoned and blinded the village blacksmith for making arms for the peasants. During the war, the castle was used as a training center for the Nazi youth. it is used for an Austrian police training school.
The school was closed in 1955 when the US Occupation Forces left Austria.
Information from yearbooks in the AOSHS archives