St. Cyprian’s Episcopal School was chartered in 1955 to give a religious foundation for learning and to provide personal attention in small classes. As a ministry and mission of St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, the School is an integral part of the community of Lufkin. The present facilities are located on a 15-acre tract adjacent to the church.
Saint Cyprian’s Episcopal School continues to provide an active, challenging, positive educational environment in which new exciting programs are initiated and existing programs are enhanced. Saint Cyprian’s Episcopal School can meet this challenge because of small classes, the availability of individual instruction, and a superior teaching staff. Saint Cyprian’s Episcopal School is accredited by the state of Texas, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools.
About Father John Caskey
John F. Caskey was a 29 year old associate minister at Trinity Parish in Galveston, Texas when he accepted the call to become the third rector of St. Cyprian’s Parish in Lufkin. He officially began his cure on June 14, 1955, and continued in that capacity for 22 + years until December 31, 1977, when he returned to Galveston as Executive Director of the William Temple Foundation and Vicar of the University Church of St. Luke the Physician.
While this was John’s first time as a rector of his own parish, he put certain conditions on his acceptance, the most notable being that the parish would establish a day school. The parish wasted little time as “St. Cyprian’s Day School”, a Texas nonprofit corporation, was chartered in July of 1955, and the School came into being that Fall. John was a natural teacher and a phenomenal motivator who engendered great loyalty from his teachers and administrators at the School. From its beginning in 1955, the School grew modestly until the mid-1960’s, when Mrs. H.J. “Ann” Shands, Jr. brought her young son “Jay” to John. He had been diagnosed as suffering from a little known learning disability called “dyslexia”. Responding to the mother’s urgent plea, John went to the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas to be trained in the new therapy procedure pioneered by the Hospital. As additional therapist-candidates went to the Scottish Rite Hospital for training, the new therapy program changed the life of Jay and many other children at the School over the next 30 years. Over that period, the School literally survived on several occasions due to John’s perseverance and fund-raising earnestness. The award for the most representative student, male and female, in the School is named after John and is presented each year.
During John’s long tenure at the parish, many important changes took place. By the late 1960’s, the parish had acquired almost the entire block north of downtown on which it has been situated since its beginning in the early part of the twentieth century. But a sanctuary fire in 1969 forced the parish to look at where Lufkin, and the future of the parish, would be growing. At a most fortuitous time, the parish bought land off of Old Union Road, where the new west loop around Lufkin was being built. John worked closely with Tom Greacen, the parish architect, in the design of the new parish facilities which were completed in 1972. John’s input is reflected all through the sanctuary of the new parish facilities. The altar “re-table”, the light brick to match the native soil, the opaque windows to reveal the native foliage, and the open altar area with elevated pulpit, were part of John’s legacy in the church. And while the cost of constructing the facilities were very modest by 1990’s standards, even that mortgage had been paid in full by the time of John’s departure in December 1977, a mere five years after completion.
John made a consistent moral statement in the community which other ministers were reluctant or afraid to make. Many long-time parishioners and Lufkinites recall John picketing the Pines Movie Theater in Lutkin in the early 1960’s for its showing of “Lolita”.
John was offered the opportunity to leave St. Cyprian’s for greater challenges that were close to his heart. He accepted the offer to begin a new ministry in Galveston at the William Temple Foundation. So after almost a quarter of a century in the piney woods he returned to the island.
John’s lasting legacy at St. Cyprian’s takes many forms: at the parish, not only in the brick and mortar of the beautiful facilities and their design, but in the hearts of the parishioners who worked with John to help the parish fulfill its mission in the community; at the School, in the hearts and minds of young people who received a superior education in a Christian community; and most lastingly, in the minds of the dyslexic students whose lives were changed dramatically when they realized that they were merely slowed by a perception problem that they could overcome.