|EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITES
From what we can tell, it appears the school offered interscholastic athletics while it was an all-girls’ school, according to prep historian Robert Pruter. It may have offered others, and this is where we can use your help if you know. Please contact us at the addresses below.
We are aware that St. Mary was a member of the Catholic High School Girls’ Basketball League from 1927-31, but did not win a conference title. Other schools that competed were St. Catherine (later known as Siena), Visitation, Loretto High, Loretto Academy, Longwood, Mercy, St. Xavier, Alvernia, Aquinas, Evanston Marywood, and Wilmette Mallickrodt. The conference was broken up by the formation of a new league by the Catholic Youth Organization in 1932.
EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES & STUDENT LIFE
We do know from our fact-gathering that the school was big on journalism. It’s weekly paper, The Herald, won awards in the 1930’s and ’40’s, while a later version called The Catalyst from 1968-76 played an important role in informing parents, students, and faculty alike. In fact, moderator Sr. Ann Christine Heintz was nominated the national “Educator of the Year” award by the Chicago Tribune in 1971.
St. Mary also took a step away from traditional school practices in the later part of the 1960’s as the country was going thru a great deal of change. For instance, the school did away with uniforms and the BVM order discarded their habits for a simple dress code, and teacher-student relationships became less formal as both parties were involved in governing the school thru teams that made everyday decisions about the school, including disciplinary actions and hiring of faculty.
Also, alumni, faculty, and other interested individuals were part of fund raising for the school. Television star Leonard Nimoy (“Mr. Spock” from Star Trek) even came to the school’s aid by narrating a television special that aired on the NBC affiliate in Chicago (WMAQ-TV) called “If the Mind is Free” to help raise funds for St. Mary. Faculty even took pay cuts as much as 50 percent as well as donating parts of their salaries to help keep the school afloat, and also helped with maintenance duties around the school.
But in the end, it was simply was not enough as increased tuition made it almost impossible for middle and lower income students to attend St. Mary as conditions on the 75-year old building had deteriorated to the point that funds were not available for repairs.
Some of the school’s records are now in the hands of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s library, which includes photos, yearbooks, meeting minutes, gradebooks, and much more.
Other activities had to have been offered to students to enhance their educational experiences, such as chorus, band, dances, and much more. We are hopeful that an alumnus might be able to tell us more about St. Mary extra-curriculars.
Marjhorie Noga added the following memories of St. Mary High School:
“The school colors were blue and white. The school song was titled “The Bells of St. Mary’s.” I don’t recall any sports teams but there was a Drama club. The first yearbook was published in 1968.”
**From Kathy Skinner Frank:
“I went to St.Mary ’60 to ’62 and would have been in the class of ’63. When I was there my last year, I was in academy building in the Peoria room. The board job I had was in the dish room.”
**From Ofelia Flores (Class of 1968):
“I am a graduate of St. Mary High School – May/June 1968. I have memories of the most wonderful Sisters. St. Filibert (music & Business Teacher) is the one that left a great impression in my life of St. Mary.”
**From Nan Brennan:
Adelaide Brennan, 1914-2014
Former nun kept alive memory of her father, who brought order to Chicago’s street system
By Patrick T. Reardon, Special to the Tribune
April 1, 2014
Adelaide Brennan’s father, Edward Brennan, did more than anyone in Chicago history to rationalize the city’s street system.
But she remembered him for spending most of his weekends with her and his other two young daughters, Mary and Agnes, taking trips around the city on the “L”, teaching them how to swim and going to Benediction at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Rogers Park on Sunday afternoons.
“He seemed to have time for the important things,” she said. “There wasn’t a (weekday) night we didn’t run down to the corner to look for him walking home.”
Ms. Brennan, 99, who taught for 36 years in Chicago schools, many of them as a Roman Catholic nun, died of heart failure Thursday, March 27, at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago, her second cousin Pat Gorman said.
Her father was a building superintendent at a Loop firm who, starting in 1901, successfully lobbied to make State and Madison streets the center point for the street numbering system. He also was influential in eliminating hundreds of duplicate street names and in enacting a variety of other measures to make Chicago one of the easiest cities in the world for finding one’s way.
Edward Brennan, who attended an estimated 600 City Hall meetings in his efforts to straighten Chicago’s streets, died in 1942. For much of their adult lives, his three daughters worked to keep bright the memory of their father and all he accomplished. Their mother, Beatrice, died in 1953.
Agnes Brennan died in 1999, and Mary Brennan McGraw in 2004. So Adelaide Brennan was alone when the capstone of their efforts came with the honorary designation of State and Madison as Edward Brennan Way in August. It was her 99th birthday.
“This tribute today,” she said in a statement at the ceremony, “is the fulfillment of my hopes and dreams for many years and a very special gift for me today.”
Born in 1914, Ms. Brennan entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1937 and took the name Sister Mary St. Beatrice, BVM. During her time with the order she obtained a bachelor’s degree from Clarke College (now Clarke University) in Dubuque, Iowa, and she was one of the first women to obtain a degree from the University of Notre Dame, earning a master’s in economics, Gorman said.
From 1950 to 1967 she was on the faculty of St. Mary High School at 2044 W. Grenshaw St. in Chicago, teaching commercial classes including bookkeeping, typing and shorthand.
After leaving the religious order to care for her ailing sisters, she taught disadvantaged teens in the Chicago Public Schools system. Those who knew Ms. Brennan were struck by her serenity and good humor, even in the face of worsening physical ailments. “I tried to let Adelaide know that her impact on me, my family and the lives of all she touched was extremely important to this world,” Gorman said.
Ms. Brennan and her sisters helped their father create a one-of-a-kind historical record — seven thick scrapbooks containing hundreds of newspaper clippings from 1884 to 1942 relating the city’s history, as well as documents and correspondence on the street system.
In 1958 the sisters donated the scrapbooks to the Chicago History Museum, where they have been an important resource for scholars.
“Edward Brennan’s lifelong fascination with a rational system of street names and addressing is seen in the scrapbooks he compiled on the subject over several decades,” said Chicago geographer and historian Dennis McClendon.
“These seven volumes provide a unique insight into the system Chicagoans take for granted.”
Ms. Brennan leaves no immediate survivors.
Services were private, and a memorial Mass is being planned.
From Joan Sadek Gacek (class of 1954):
“In my Senior year, we had a magazine drive and got points for selling magazines. These points were like votes given to us to vote for a girl. The prize was a modeling scholarship to Estelle Compton Modeling School on Michigan Avenue. I was not a popular girl because I did not live around or even close to the school. I traveled by streetcar my first year and 3 busses the next 3 years. My mother wanted my to have a good education and St. Mary’s was one of the best girls schools in Chicago. I made many friends at the school.
“I learned this when we had our 50th reunion and was remembered by all. On the day they announced the winner, we had the Four Lads, a very poplar singing group, on stage to give away the $300 scholarship. I was shocked when they announced my name, but overjoyed that I got the most votes.
“I went to modeling school for over a year but learned how to walk, put on make-up and most of all that I did not want to be a model especially after I heard a phone call from someone looking for a girl with the biggest bust. This was not the way I wanted to be known. I often think about the wonderful years at St. Mary’s and proud to be a graduate of this school.
“After I graduated and got my driver’s license, l drove over to Taylor Street to see my old friends. I think they were so glad I remembered them. To this day I follow how I should look and take pride that I was loved by so many. I teased the girls at the reunion that the only way I won was because they felt sorry for me, because the way I looked and dressed and we had a laugh, but they denied that statement.
“I got a wonderful education, and to this day, my kids and grandkids always ask me how to spell a word or a math answer.”
From Dianne Morrissette Caliendo (class of 1963):
I was a student at St. Mary’s from 1959-1963. There were many wonderful drama productions at St. Mary’s. Boys from neighboring schools would take the male parts in the plays. I remember being in the chorus for “South Pacific.” In fact, a recording was made of the play and put onto an LP.
“They also did “The Desk Set.” My father was the custodian at St. Mary’s until he passed away in 1969. He designed the large computer for the play, “The Desk Set,” which showed the computer lights flashing like the original computers of the day.
“I traveled from the southwest border of the city near Archer and Harlem to attend St. Mary’s and went on to attend the University of Illinois, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. I fondly remember my years at St. Mary’s. There wasn’t a better all-girls’ school in the city.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION ABOUT ST. MARY’S HIGH SCHOOL?
We can use all the help we can get here, folks. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking on this CONTACT US link. Or just send it to us at the address listed below. Photos of the school, nickname, words to a school song, any win-loss records of possible athletic teams are welcome. Please contact us at:
Illinois High School Glory Days
6439 North Neva
Chicago, IL 60631
**A newspaper article regarding the Adelaide Brennan’s remarkable father Edward Paul Brennan is available at the following web address: