As the school year winds to an end of this final year of the elementary program at St. Michael’s Lakeside School, we reflect upon the many wonderful memories we have of this special school. In 94 years, many memories have been made.
I was student teaching when St. Michael’s moved down the street into our newly purchased school building. We had a parade of students walking the three blocks as they carted their blue bins full of supplies. Once we were in our new classrooms, our principal, Ms. Zook, came over the PA. It was obviously a new experience for our students, who stared at the small brown box on the wall with looks of wonder, as if they were hearing the voice of God! The contrast between buildings was evident in that experience: We were no longer in a space so small that you could almost shout from the upper steps so the whole school could hear but were now in an expansive building with long hallways and spacious rooms, requiring what was then a somewhat sophisticated communication system.
— Karen Newstrom
I second the parade of moving from one school building to the other. The kids were astounded by how big the rooms were, drinking fountains and coat rooms in each one, separate gym and lunchroom — amazing! Father Fider’s brown bag sermons were great! Students and teachers alike looked forward to seeing what object lesson would come out of his bag each week. The year I had a parent who taught my students sign language for all the responses for Mass, as well as the Lord’s Prayer and praise songs, was amazing. The kids were so focused, prayerful, and highly engaged in each Mass that year. I kept pets many years in my classroom. My fellow teachers were so tolerant when those critters escaped. My first year I had three gerbils. I believe they ended up in the second-grade room on the floor below our fifth-grade classroom. One year the hamsters decided to take a vacation from their cage and ended up in the lower part of the radiator. One year our bugs from science class got out … still don’t know where they ended up. The amazing, creative, and hard-working students and parents over the years are treasures. For many years we had an end-of-the-year carnival with a dunk tank. I took many a turn, and it was always an adventure — especially in those cold, windy years!
— Lynn Peterson
The spring musical. The Christmas concert. Assemblies. The science exhibits. The students spontaneously singing the fight song after the Christmas concert. Go, Tigers, go! Tammy’s baking. The library and all of those wonderful children’s books. The Advent Fair. Praying the rosary with all of the students. Our generous volunteers. Mikey the Tiger. The living, inviting classrooms — all those plants and rocks. Mrs. Fort-Medlin on any dress-up day. She rocked the Mad Hatter and a flapper! Ms. Clark’s smiling face every morning at the front desk. The video morning announcements. Teacher emeritus Mrs. Newstrom. Did she really think she could retire? How the school looked at Christmastime. Grandma Judy’s decorating. The Gingerbread Man escaped! The McKeever Family making a clean sweep at pretty much everything we did as families. The way the gym looked for the family dance. All-school morning prayer and everyone singing “This Little Light of Mine.” Faculty meetings. Who knew they could be so fun?! All of the wonderful St. Michael’s teachers. Everyone helping each other. Parents and teachers always ready to step up to help. That is what makes the St. Michael’s community so special. The children singing during Mass. To hear children singing “Jesus, Remember Me” is so moving. But my favorite memory was the Junkyard Tournament. That was so much fun! And I had no idea that the rivalry between Mrs. Fort-Medlin and Mrs. McKeever ran so deep! That was intense!
— Angela Mejdrich
My kids both loved Father Fider’s “brown bag” sermons and how he would pick sticks and make sure all the kids got to come up on the altar. I also loved when Father Tom Radaich let my first-graders act out the Gospel during a Mass and invited them to come by him when he preached the sermon. The school plays, Lenten and Advent Fairs were also highlights. At one time we had a basketball team and chess club. It was awesome that we used to have a student council, and they were in charge of monthly fun days and our school store. The best is the students and their families and the love we had for each other. Scott Junkert’s great music programs; not just for Christmas and Grandparents’ Day but he would switch off every year and do a St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, etc., concert. Our SLMS Sunday Masses were really wonderful, with our students doing all the readings, gifts, etc. We used to have big graduations and decorated the church hall and had the Mass before the meal, which was a big affair. My kids loved the Carnivals we used to have in the spring. It was so much fun, and we really had some great ones, with all kinds of fun activities including a dunk tank.
— Stephanie Fort-Medlin
The Lenten fair. The carnival. Father Fider’s “brown bag” sermon. My “Stone Soup” play. Teaching about dinosaurs and the students’ dioramas. Scott Junkert’s beautiful Christmas concerts. Father Tom Radaich let the students receiving first Communion stand on the pews so that everyone could see them.
— Jen McKeever
(1958) The windows in the second floor classrooms (of the first school) were huge. We used a long pole to pull down the top of the double-hung window to let out the hot air from the ceiling. It seemed to be a privilege when I was old enough to be assigned to open or close the window.
— Richard Haugen
(1964) Sister Judella in first grade, who told us she had “eyes in the back of her head” … and we believed her! I remember my six year-old mind imagining an extra set of eyes under that habit. I also spent a fair amount of time wondering if nuns had hair on their heads like everyone else. In Sister Judella’s first grade class, we created a cardboard TV out of an appliance carton, and then took turns reading stories to the rest of the class in the “screen.” That little playground on the upper side of Pitt Street from the convent. We were so content with so little equipment. A swing set and a teeter totter. And that cool boulder nearby in “the woods” that we would spend a whole recess playing on.
— Ann LaFrance/Ogg
(1964) The school day began every day with Mass at the church. The boys sat on the right side facing the altar and the girls on the left side. Then after Mass the whole school would assemble outside of the school around the flag pole and say the Pledge of Allegiance before entering the school. (1972) Surprising our eighth grade teacher Sister Mary Margaret, who was also the school principal, with a new puppy! It was at the end of the school year. We carried it into the classroom in a gift box that she uncovered to reveal the surprise. I thought she would be mad that we had a puppy in the school building, but she loved it. I don’t know how long she kept it. Going to Isabella (now Wolf Ridge) for an environmental education overnight trip. (1993?) When the school moved from the old building up to the Lakeside School building, there was a parade with all the students helping to carry something to the new building. It was sad to leave the old school but exciting to have larger classrooms.
— Mary Ann Haugen/Harriss
For these and all of our special memories, thank you, St. Michael’s School.
Angela Majdrich is vice principal of St. Michael’s Lakeside School in Duluth.