We have a tendency to think of 60 years as a short period of time. It is not. When I think of how much this world has changed over my 47 years, I realize 60 years is something to be in awe over. Imagine this year’s graduating class coming back sixty years from now to enjoy the 120th graduation. The very idea makes me wonder what it will be like for Robert Nelson and Mary Thomason, two of the five surviving members of the very first class to graduate at Monroe, as they return to celebrate graduation on May 11.
Sixty years ago, did Mr. Nelson and Mrs. Thomason have any inclination these schools would still be here? Could they ever have imagined we would grow and become who we are today?
Let’s start with a history lesson. ICS opened its doors in 1946 as a partnership between the Sisters of Providence and the Society of Jesus. The Sisters ran the hospital (now Denali State Bank) and the Jesuits staffed Immaculate Conception Church. It’s one thing to have a vision; it is an entirely different matter to see that vision through, to make it a reality. This is what those amazing folks did — they saw a dream through to fruition. Through the struggle of those earlier years and the struggles that would inevitably come and go, the Jesuits and the Sisters always believed they “could.” They believed in each other, in the kids and families they worked with, and in the community they worked in.
A 120th graduation will come with challenges and struggle, just as the previous sixty years brought. Challenges have included the Sisters of Providence leaving the schools during the 1960s and the Society of Jesus following suit through the ’70s. Many an alum has expressed their shock over financial struggles to me, explaining, “My parents were able to pay, so parents today should be able to do the same.” Yes, but no. Those parents did not have to bear the burden of teacher salaries and benefits in the ’60s and a large portion of the ’70s. Teachers who were provided through lay service and ministry are no longer here. The burden, in its entirety, must be born by us. Today’s challenges include not only having to bear the cost of our staff, but to do so with the growing force of homeschooling, charters, and magnet schools. These challenges will be faced head-on and we will prevail. We will do so through the belief, faith and indomitable spirit that has been pervasive through the past sixty years.
Investing in the future was how the Spring Fundraiser and Celebration was born. Watch for more information online at catholic-schools.org/spring or in the summer newsletter.
Frank Ostanik, CSF Athletic Director and “Boss of the Rams.”