Story by Reagan Scott
McCOOK (SNR) – On Saturday March 16, St. Patrick School in McCook will hold its second annual G.I.F.T. (Giving Investments for Tomorrow) Gala, A Red Carpet Affair.
This year the school, which serves approximately 130 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Cassie Spencer, one of the development directors for the school, said that the purpose of the event is to raise financial support for the school—the only Catholic school in the Lincoln Diocese west of Hastings.
St. Patrick School’s cornerstone was laid in place May 29, 1918 with students arriving for classes in September 1918. The school began with an enrollment of 60 children and was primarily staffed by the Dominican Sisters.
The original school building and old brick church building were demolished, and the current school building opened in August of 1985. The new facility represented the parish community’s desire to continue to provide a Catholic education for the children in the area.
“We want to keep Catholic education in our community going for the next hundred years,” Spencer said.
Spencer and Jill Koenig, the other development director for the school, wanted to make the G.I.F.T. Gala as community-oriented as possible. Two weeks before the event, they sold out of tickets for the 280 seats at the Gala.
Spencer was excited that nine priests will be in attendance, as well as a couple of religious sisters from the area.
The evening includes a sit-down dinner, cash bar, live and silent auctions and games throughout the evening. Bishop James Conley will celebrate Mass at St. Patrick Church at 4:30 p.m. and all are invited to attend that Mass, not just those with tickets for the event.
“It was really fun to see everyone so dressed up at Mass last year,” Spencer said.
Eighth grade students at the school have the opportunity to be involved in the Mass. The will serve at the altar, and the girls will greet guests at the door.
Spencer also invited interested individuals to a “Sip and See” event the night before the gala. It will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. After the Knights of Columbus Friday fish fry March 15, all are invited to the open house at St. Patrick School and Gymnasium to view the live and silent auction items available at the event while enjoying drinks and desserts.
This year’s live auction includes a handmade playhouse, a hot tub, hunting and fishing trips, and Husker tickets, to name a few. The silent auction includes such items as tickets to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha and memorabilia commemorating the school’s 100th anniversary.
Spencer said that she will be happy with any outcome of the event, but that she was overwhelmed and humbled by the community’s response to the Gala last year. The funds raised in 2018 allowed the school to increase the salary of its teachers.
The community is ready for the event. This year’s “Platinum” sponsors include Bison Dental and friends, Cappel Sales, Inc., Debbie Douglas-Farm Bureau Financial Services, Janssen Kool Honda, Jason and Wendy Timmerman/Connealy Angus, Southwest Nebraska Dental Center and Norm and Sharon Timmerman.
Spencer had five children at Saint Patrick school last year and noted the high engagement of the parents and teachers. She said she enjoys that the kindergarteners get to see and interact with the older students and said that the eighth graders transition well to McCook Senior High School after graduation.
“You get the sense that we’re a little family,” she said.
Thanks to the generosity of the community and the hard work put in by volunteers for the event, this year’s G.I.F.T. Gala is sure to be another success. For more
details and information on the G.I.F.T. Gala visit www.stpatsmccook.com.