1979-80 was my first year at the schools and the first year for the new two-story Immaculate Conception School building. It was considerably bigger and more modern looking than Monroe or the old barracks type buildings which connected ICS and Monroe. The colors were bold, the carpeting bright, the two level stair cases with the turn were rather unique and the elevator was “the best” according to young students.
How does a building like that come to be? As a history major I was curious. Fr. McGuigan, SJ then President of Monroe Foundation, Inc. and MF Board members worked hard to raise the funds, and many of the board members still have family supporting or attending the schools today. Joe Jackovich’s daughters Jennifer and Jeanne own Samson Hardware and contribute to HIPOW. Don Pruhs’ son David attends HIPOW and contributes a dinner each year, his son Dana who lives in Anchorage is a donor and he and his family attended HIPOW 2018. George Sundborg has three grandchildren at ICS. Dr. Joe Ribar’s son, Joe, volunteers at basketball games, as a reader in ICS classrooms, and is Monroe’s softball coach. Cliff Burglin’s son and daughter-in-law Dave and Patty were co-chairs of the last two HIPOW Auctions, his granddaughter Brittany is on the MF Board of Directors. Dr. Ribar, Cliff Burglin and Ken Ulz all had grandchildren graduate from Monroe many of whom attend HIPOW now.
On August 26, 1979 there was a Mass of Dedication in Boileau Hall for the new school building. Bishop Robert Whelan, SJ was the Celebrant. Here is an excerpt from the from his homily: “Because I feel that a precious heritage has been given to us here in Fairbanks, I wish to publicly express my gratitude to all who have worked so diligently and generously over the years to build, preserve and help to develop our school system. Today, with the dedication of this new building I am asking you to commit yourselves anew. We will need your continued and generous support so that what is blessed and dedicated can be ours.”
I echo Bishop Whelan: We have been given a precious heritage; schools started by the partnership of the Sisters of Providence and the Society of Jesus in 1946. I find the community support of these schools to be both remarkable and incredibly humbling.
The word humbling leads my mind to wander back to 1979 when I first walked into the Monroe gym. It smelled of cigarette smoke and there was odd equipment infringing on the gym floor, but that’s another story for another post.
Written by Nancy Cook Hanson for the Spring Matching Fundraiser