As St. Dominic School celebrates its
half-century anniversary, students asked:
What will life be like in 50 years?
The answers were anywhere from the obvious—"Teachers will retire and there will be different ones”—to the somewhat unlikely: “The schools will be floating!”
And of course, there was the hopeful: “Math will be invisible” [to which a few adults in the room nodded in approval].
The first graders in Amanda Frick’s class at St. Dominic School in Garden City prove that creativity and imagination are gifts given to one and all, no exceptions.
These children were not only born in the 21st century, it’s unlikely that any were born prior to 2010. Yet, many of their predictions were the same as those predicted decades ago: flying cars, robots, etc....
One prediction that no one could deny a half century ago was that in 50 years St. Dominic School would be thriving.
But before taking a look at the past, the pupils took part in an entertaining look into the future, predicting what school life, and life in general, would be like:
“The school will look older.”
“We’ll look older!”
“It will be an electric [dry-erase] board. You’ll say it and it will show.”
“Robots will teach. Then the teachers can have a day off.”
“The swing sets will be different. You’ll be able to go higher.”
“The ceiling will be dark brown.”
“Worm holes will be used for teleportation.”
In a presentation to St. Dominic parishioners and school families on Jan. 28, the first day of Catholic Schools Week, Principal Trina Delgado shared some of the history of the 50-year-old school.
St. Dominic School opened its doors for the first time on Sept. 7, 1967 with 106 pupils in six grades. Bishop Marion Forst dedicated the parish complex (which also included a multi-use auditorium and convent) on May 5, 1968.
At this point, there was still only one church in Garden City: St. Mary.
Why did the diocese build a new school before it constructed a church for the new parish?
St. Dominic had been decreed a parish two years earlier, and ground was purchased for the parish complex. But the money wasn’t there for a new church and school.
Father Lisle Pottorff, pastor, noted at the time, “As the Bishop has indicated, the foundation of a parish is the faith, and the foundation of the faith is a parish school. Due to the lack of funds, an entire parish plant cannot be built at this time.”
On Sept. 6, 1966, ground was broken, and after a year-and-a-half of construction, Bishop Forst dedicated the complex.
Mass, which had been held in the Coop Community Center and later the Knights of Columbus Hall, moved to the auditorium, where it would be celebrated for the next 15 years before the present St. Dominic Church would be constructed.
Lilly Ann Rein was hired as a para at St. Dominic School in 1975, less than a decade after the school opened its doors. At the time, the staff consisted of four teachers (all of whom were Sisters) and two paras—the entire teaching staff for grades one through six.
“My dream was that by the time I stopped working, we would have a teacher for every grade, and a P.E. teacher, librarian and a music teacher,” Rein said in an earlier interview. “Today we have a teacher for every grade. We have gym and music. We have a computer lab. We have a pre-school for three-year-olds, PreK for four- and five-year-olds, and a kindergarten. We have really come far.
“I got so much more than I asked for,” she said with a wide smile.
St. Dominic’s, and other Catholic schools, continue to maintain a strong Catholic presence.
“We’re so lucky that we can go to Mass, speak about God, pray together, and do loving and wonderful things with the kids,” Rein said. “We’ve got a good set of kids. It’s due to the parents and faculty. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK
Delgado, who also is Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said that “it has been a full week of celebration and inspiration for our school community, especially our young students and staff. My thoughts, when we began planning this celebration, were that we needed to educate our young people about the many people that it takes to make (and maintain) a successful Catholic school.
“Our students have learned the many changes that have taken place in 50 years, as well as the reasons behind those changes. We’ve learned about the legacy of people, and the influence that a Catholic education had, and continues to have, on lives; as Catholics, as family members, as professionals, and simply put, on people being a small part of the larger world. Finally, we have learned the meaning and responsibility of being alumni.
“The time spent at St. Dominic Catholic School may be short, in terms of years, but the memories that are made run deep,” Delgado said. “A special bond is created that lasts a lifetime!”
“In memories shared with me by past lay and religious staff, I was told of a young student who lived very close to the school, got homesick midday and climbed out a school window to make a run for home,” Delgado said. “An unnamed religious sister, dressed in full habit, hiked up her skirt and followed him right out the same window, returning him not so patiently through the back school doors.”
Delgado said she “was also told of a certain priest, Msgr. [George] Husmann, who held a pilot’s license, and (the story gets better) owned his own airplane. Every year, for sixth grade graduation—according to Sister Renee Dreiling—he would take the 6th grade students on an airplane ride, not just any ride, but complete with flipping his plane into a spiral, student screams encouraged!”
Allison Doll, a senior at Kansas State University, said that the “aspect of St. Dominic that surprised me the most are the friendships that started there, and that still carry on to this day. After St. Dominic, there were many obstacles that came up, going to different schools, making new friends, not being involved in the same activities, all things that could have easily torn previous relationships apart.
“Though our relationships have changed, it is like we share a certain bond. As I think back on the past week (in my life), and take inventory of all the people I have interacted with, about a quarter of them are former St. Dominic students. That’s incredible considering my St. Dominic class was around 25 total students, and I am now attending a university with nearly 20,000 students.
“Maybe the reason these relationships have endured for so long is that they got their start by being rooted in a strong faith. St. Dominic Catholic School has been a pillar of faith for 50 years.
“The school has helped shape the lives of hundreds of students and educators, and in turn they have shaped the school. Though the faces change, the mission and values stay the same.”