St. Leonard Alumni in the Spotlight
O’Halloran Family class of:
Kevin -72, Denis- 74, Mary- 75, Elizabeth (Beth) -76, Catherine -77, Tom – 79, John – 83. At that time there were quite a few families that had 5 or more kids.
This was when most of our teachers were nuns. Most of the older nuns wore the old habit, the long black robe and their hair was completely covered. Then as time went on, the new nuns that came to St. Leonard wore a short dress habit and some had their hair covered and others didn’t. We saw the gradual change in going from wearing the very old fashioned habit to eventually more modern day habit.
At that time there were 2 classes for each grade and probably 30-35 students in each class. The school was busting at the seams.
Over the years there were so many teachers and people that impacted our lives, but a few really stood out. Our Principal, Sister Eileen Sullivan, (who was the first nun to come with the “modern” nun’s habit). Hair not covered, short dress. We were in awe. She was one of the sweetest nuns but also strict in her own way. You never wanted to be sent to her office. Mrs. Agnes Bowman, the school secretary. She knew everyone’s name and everything about everyone’s family. Msgr. Farrell, you may still hear his name mentioned today. He was a very humble, Godly man. His love was not only for the parish, but also for the school and especially the children and families. Msgr. made it possible and his mission to make sure that if there was a family who wanted to attend St. Leonard but had financial difficulty, he did what he could to make it possible. That’s where the Msgr. Farrell tuition assistance fund came from. At report card time, Msgr. would also come to each classroom and hand out report cards to every student. When he came to the school (at anytime) we would have to stand as a class and say good morning/afternoon – Msgr. Mrs. Davis – one of the few lay teachers we had, taught second grade, and was everyone’s favorite. If you were going into the second grade you prayed that you got her for a teacher. Mr. Kapes, our only Male teacher who taught fourth and fifth grade and played the organ at all the school masses.
Some memories that come to mind when we think about our years at St. Leonard are;
- Our special lunch was hot dog day. Every once in a while we would have a dress down jeans day and hot dogs for lunch.
- This was also a time when students went home for lunch. It was convenient for my family since all we had to do was walk across the street. That eventually changed and families were given the option to have their kids stay at school for lunch or go home and then eventually there wasn’t a choice. All students had to stay at school for lunch and the infamous hot lunch program started.
- May crowning was big! Mary was crowned in the evening. We practiced for at least a week before the big day, every afternoon. We loved it because we got out of our classes. The night of May Crowing, all the school kids had to come back dressed in their Sunday best. We had to go to our classroom and process to the church where we sat with our class. The 8th grade had a “May crowing court” that included the person picked to crown Mary. Our sister Mary was picked by her classmates to crown Mary in 1975.
- 8th grade dance lessons – If you were in 8th grade, it was mandatory to take dance lessons to prepare you for your 8th grade graduation dinner dance. Lessons would be during the afternoon of the school day in the school hall a couple of weeks before the dinner dance. We learned actual dance steps, the waltz, the cha cha.
Then and Now!
- The difference between then and now is that we had a boy’s basketball, but not a girl’s team.
- St. Leonard actually had a football team. And yes, Denis O’Halloran played on the team and broke his arm in a game.
- Only boy altar servers, girls weren’t allowed.
- We didn’t have the morning drop off for the students, a lot of students walked to school without their parents.
So a lot has changed at St. Leonard School. But what hasn’t changed that I can see, is the commitment to give our children the best Academic Faith filled education that there is. And so that’s why I have two children who have graduated from St. Leonard and currently have 2 children attending in grades 3 & 8.
Today all of us are still living in Illinois. Four of us are still parishioners, Kevin, Mary, Beth and Tom.