Our 2003 NCEA Distinguished Graduate
Class of 1964
The hallmark of Catholic elementary school education is the accomplishments of its graduates. This year Kathryn Labukas , from the St. Hughs's graduating class of 1964, was honored on January 25th with the NCEA Distinguished Graduate Award, Catholic Elementary School. Kathryn has devoted her career to providing community support and education to children with learning disabilities, emotional and physical impairments and mental retardation. "I am surprised and honored" Labukas said, "and grateful to those who nominated me."
Kathryn, along with brother Peter Jr. (class of 67), Elizabeth and Lynn Labukas (class of 75) grew up in old Greenbelt, first at 25F Ridge Road, and then on Lakeside Dr. Her parents were the late Peter and Eileen Labukas. Of her early St. Hugh's School days, she remembers that "Students who lived close to the school had the option to go home for lunch!" But best of all "Once a month, the entire school had a luncheon. Mothers cooked the best steamed hot dogs and provided cupcakes for each class. Along with potato chips, this was always a lunch we looked forward to."
Labukas graduated from Regina High School (Adelphi) and then obtained a B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education from the University of Dayton (Ohio). Years later she returned to school and earned a M.Ed. in Learning Disabilities from Loyola College (Baltimore) and a Administrative/Supervisory Certification from Trinity College (Washington D.C.)
Her work with children with special needs started at home, as sister Elizabeth was born with Down Syndrome. As a special educator in Prince Georges County elementary schools (Glenarden Woods, Cooper Lane, James Ryder Randall, Thomas Stone) Labukas developed and implemented special education and community outreach programs for students with learning disabilities, emotional and physical impairments and mental retardation. After 30 years of service with the Prince Georges County public school system, she retired in 2002 from her position as Principal of Tanglewood Special Center, a school for students with severe/profound multiple disabilities between the ages of 5 and 21.
Active in retirement, Labukas is the President of the Prince George's County Chapter 262 of the Council for Exceptional Children, an international professional organization devoted to improving educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities. In addition, she is an Executive Board Member of the Prince George's County Resource Connections Agency, which is funded by federal, state and county monies to provide resources and monitor the service plans and living arrangements for developmentally disabled adults. She also has begun work with the Association for Retarded Citizens (Arc) to develop a sibling support group for children ages 8 to 12 who have siblings with special needs.
Within the community Labukas is a member of both the Sodality and Ladies of Charity of St. Hugh's Parish, is a "docent-in-training" at the Greenbelt Museum and a supporting member of the New Deal Cafe. She also enjoys swimming, ballroom dancing, travel, reading, gardening and for balance in her busy life, yoga and meditation.
- Students who lived close to the school had the option to go home for lunch!
- Once a month, the entire school had a luncheon. Mothers cooked the best steamed hot dogs and provided cupcakes for each class. Along with potato chips, this was always a lunch we looked forward to.
- At recess time, boys and girls played in separate areas. The girls had the blacktop and the boys played on Braden field.
- In the second grade, my parents invited my entire class to walk through the woods to our house on Lakeside for a playday. Everyone had fun participating in organized games, hanging around the play equipment and enjoying a picnic. Many of my classmates still remember this.
- Each May a May procession was held in honor of the Blessed Mother. A May Queen was selected from the 8th grade class. She was dressed elegantly in a long dress and had 3-4 other classmates in her court. Everyonelse in the school dressed in their Sunday best and paraded around the school.
- Each May a bazaar was held in the multipurpose room. There were game booths, food booths, cake walks, raffles and more - fun for everyone.
- The Cuban Missle Crisis took place while I attended St. Hugh's. We had to practice for bomb raids by crouching beneath our desks or in the school hallways. Luckily, we never had to react to a real bomb threat.
- I was in the 8th grade when John F. Kennedy was shot. I remember everyone in class saying prayers together for him.
- My 8th grade class had the honor of being the first class to graduate in the new church in 1964!"
Our Other NCEA Distinguished Graduates:
2007 - Timothy O'Brien ('73)
2006 - Mark Markowich
2005 - Laurence "Bucky" Fitzgerald ('71)
2003 - Kathy Labukas ('64)
2002 - Beth Barber Fendlay ('73)
2000 - Dr. Christopher Linstrom ('64)