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It's a double celebration at St. Pius X/St. Leo School


Archbishop Curtiss leads the crowd to the new student services building after an all-school Mass.
Photos by Jaclyn Twidwell
While three students pose for the camera, another takes a moment to talk over the day's events with Archbishop Curtiss.

By JACLYN TWIDWELL
The Catholic Voice

Two celebrations at St. Pius X/St. Leo School in Omaha are marking 2006 an as important year.

A new addition to the school was dedicated and blessed Sept. 7 and the school community is preparing to celebrate its 50th year Sept. 17 with several special events.

Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss joined faculty, parents and students in St. Pius X Church Sept. 7 to celebrate Mass, and to bless and dedicate the addition to the school.

'I am happy to be here with you today to bless these new facilities, but more than anything else I am happy to be here to celebrate the Eucharist with you because that is at the heart of faith," Archbishop Curtiss told the more than 800 students present.

After Mass, the archbishop toured and blessed the new student services building, pre-kindergarten and pre-school classrooms.

Dream realized

'This has been like a dream, a vision of mine for so many years," said Principal Joyce Gubbels. 'The dream of having pre-school and pre-kindergarten areas, so we can get the kids here and they can just stay with us until the end of eighth grade has been fulfilled."

The student services building also features a new main entrance, administrative offices, a teacher work room, nurse space and restrooms.

The archbishop was joined by Fathers Harold Buse, pastor, and Timothy Forget, associate pastor, both of St. Leo the Great Parish; Fathers Lloyd Gnirk, pastor, and Anthony Nkyi, associate pastor, both of St. Pius X Parish; Father Ryan Lewis, vice chancellor; and Father James Gilg, director of the Catholic Schools Office.

'It is a great day when a Catholic school is able to bless a new addition and savor the institutional advancement of their programs," Father Gilg told The Catholic Voice. '(St. Pius X/St. Leo School) has a tremendous history and tradition that has been around the Catholic school system for a long time, so we know that it will continue to be a fantastic place."

Began with 19 rooms

The original St. Pius X School was a 19-room building with a temporary rectory on the first floor. It was completed in September 1956.

Four sisters from the Servants of Mary and seven lay teachers were on staff that first year, with Sister Mary Brigetta Burns serving as the first principal.

The Kempker Gymnasium, named for St. Pius X Parish's first priest, was added to the school in 1959. Two temporary classrooms were included in this structure.

The south school building was completed in 1960. Three years later an addition to the north of the original school building provided new space for junior high students.

In 1979, St. Pius X School was renamed St. Pius X/St. Leo School and a successful working relationship began between St. Pius X and St. Leo the Great parishes.

Kindergarten classes were first offered in 1999 and kindergarten students moved into their own four-room building in 2002. The new building also allowed the school to offer all-day kindergarten.

Currently, St. Pius X/St. Leo School has 822 students. Enrollment hit an all-time high during the 1965-66 school year with 1,569 students. Graduates during the school's 50-year history number 5,663.

The 50th anniversary will be celebrated Sept. 17 with a 9:30 a.m. Mass in the St. Pius X Church. There will be an open house, tours and breakfast from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parish center. The cost for the breakfast is $5 per adult, $3 for kids 12 and under, and the family maximum is $20.

The Catholic Voice

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