Two area high schools are celebrating their 50th anniversaries this school year and both kicked things off with early-year activities.
On Friday, Stagg High School made the 50th anniversary a highlight of its Homecoming celebration and parade. On Monday, Marist hosted a Mass with special guest Francis Cardinal George presiding.
School spirit was at its optimum Friday afternoon at Stagg High School as students clad in blue and orange paraded along Roberts Road in celebration of homecoming and the school’s 50th anniversary.
Students from more than 30 teams and organizations gathered in the parking lot of Conrady Junior High in Hickory Hills and decorated golf carts with posters and blue and orange streamers.
Larger clubs and sports teams walked the parade route, which stepped off from Conrady and proceeded to Stagg football stadium.
Descendants of Amos Alonzo Stagg served as grand marshals of the parade, which drew hundreds of spectators along the route two-mile route.
The school was named after the legendary University of Chicago football coach “in recognition of his century of devotion to young men to help them understand the powers they possess.”
On Sept. 9, 1963, Marist opened its doors to students for the first time.
Fifty years later, the school held a Mass on its football field with Francis Cardinal George presiding to honor the half century of service.
Br. Gerard Brereton, the first hired faculty member in the school’s history, came in from New York to take part in the celebration.
“When it opened, we didn’t know what was going to happen — we had no idea,” he said during a party after the ceremony. “The school wasn’t even finished being built. We had to use temporary rooms until Christmas, when they finished it.’’
The former Spanish teacher is amazed how much the school has grown over the years.
“I could never imagine that the school would look like this,” he said. “We came from 203rd and Pulaski in a station wagon with nine brothers, teach at the school and go home every night. You would never believe the school turned to what it turned into. It’s more than doubled the land. It’s almost like a college campus.’’
Principal Larry Tucker brought back some nostalgia when he told the estimated crowd of 2,500 people about what life was like back in that era.
“The beehive hairdo was popular and the Beatles were heard frequently on the radio,” Tucker said. “Lava lamps were all the rage. Were there lava lamps in the monastery? No. The monastery didn’t exist at that time. Marist High School officially opened by the ringing of a hand bell at 9 a.m. For 50 years and over 18,000 graduates, Marist High School and the Marist brothers teamed with lay educators to form the Marist family making Jesus known and loved.’’
The school’s president, Br. Pat McNamara, had some of the members of the first graduating classes stand up and he remarked to the current students, “Take a good look — that’s what you will look like in 50 years.”