St. Patrick School to kick off centennial celebration July 23-24

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
A class photo is taken outside St. Patrick School. The school will kick off its centennial celebration with two days of activities on July 23-24.

St. Patrick School is turning 100.

The school, which opened in 1921, will kick off its centennial celebration with two days of activities on Friday and Saturday. 

Principal Kandice Roethler said a semi-formal dinner will be served at 6 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $20 for an individual and $35 for a couple. RSVPs should be sent in by noon Thursday by emailing stpatrickschool@stpatricks-perry-ia.org or calling the school at 515-465-4186.

The night’s activities will also include building tours, staff service recognition and the return of the O’Malley Award. Roethler said the award will recognize a nominated individual or couple who go above and beyond in their service to the church and the school.

The St. Patrick School as pictured on Monday, July 19, 2021. The school will kick off its centennial celebration with two days of activities on July 23-24.

While she said Friday’s event is a more intimate and semi-formal catered meal, Saturday will feature a community mass and picnic. A community mass will be held at 4 p.m. at St. Patrick Catholic Church followed by a free-will picnic supper back at the school. The menu will include hamburgers, hot dogs and chips. Seating will be available in the school’s gym but community members are also welcome to bring their own blankets and lawn chairs if they would like to sit outside. 

Fifth Street will be shut down from Lucinda to Pattee. Other activities will include building tours, face painting, bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Baskets will also be available to bid on in the lunchroom and old pictures will be scattered on the lunchroom tables during both nights.

Roethler said the two-day festivities will help kick off the school’s next 100 years. With COVID-19, the school wasn’t able to start its celebration earlier this year. Instead, Roethler said the year-long centennial celebration will continue into the new school year to highlight St. Patrick School.

“It’s really exciting to have this bright light, this accomplishment, we’ve been around for 100 years,” she said. “Looking at that into next school year and really leading with that. It’s the messaging that we need to know that you can make a difference and every year is making a difference.”

Members of the Class of 1966 pose for a photo. St. Patrick School will kick off its centennial celebration with two days of activities on July 23-24.

St. Patrick School has been gathering photos and stories from alumni. Some have noted what has changed in the building when they came in for an interview and tour.

“They just come alive and you can see the joy and the passion that they have for the school and the special place that it had for them,” Roethler said “That’s what we’re looking for too from alumni, just sharing their stories of how and what St. Pat’s did to help them be where they’re at. It might just be through eighth grade now but we have a lasting impact.”

A lot has changed since the school first opened in 1921. The school shifted from a high school to a grade school in the 1960s. The teaching staff has moved from priests and nuns to lay staff. Technology has also shifted from chalkboards to whiteboards and from notebooks to Chromebooks. 

The footprint of the school has changed over the years with new additions like the gym, a playground where housing used to stand, classrooms in new locations and more.

St. Patrick School will kick off its centennial celebration with two days of activities on July 23-24.

Two things that haven’t changed, Roethler said, are the school’s small size and its emphasis on faith. She added that the school has always been close-knit and they even have third generation students.

“They’ve always been connected and tied to the church,” Roethler said. “Faith has been a big thing and that’s still there.” 

While the centennial celebration is a good opportunity to reflect on the school’s past impact, she is also looking forward to the future.

“The kiddos who are in our building this fall are the beginning of our next 100 years,” Roethler said. “It’s really exciting to think about, they have just as much potential to shape it as Nora O’Malley did when she started the school 100 years ago.”

Members of the 2021 eighth grade graduating class of St. Patrick School pose for a photo. The school will kick off its centennial celebration with two days of activities on July 23-24.

She encourages community members to RSVP for Friday’s event by noon on Thursday. While RSVPs are not required for Saturday’s community mass and picnic, Roethler said residents can mark going on the Saint Patrick’s Catholic School Facebook event page to help with rough numbers.

For more information on either event or to share photos and stories, email stpatrickschool@stpatricks-perry-ia.org or call 515-465-4186.