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St. Philip celebrates 100 years of faith and education in Battle Creek

A group of four Catholic nuns and three nuns in training began teaching high school courses in Battle Creek on Sept. 10, 1917.

They served a Catholic community that had grown up around immigrants who helped to build the railroad line between Detroit and Chicago in the 19th century and decided to make Battle Creek their home. 

The rest is St. Philip Catholic Central High School history.

St. Philip’s first five high school students graduated in 1921. Today, nearly 115 students attend the high school and nearly 420 are enrolled in the K-12 school.

“It’s pretty amazing to have Catholic education in Battle Creek for 100 years at St. Phil,” Principal Vicky Groat said Wednesday. “There’s so many sacrifices that our parents give up to send their kids to a private school.

“There’s nowhere else where you can go to school and learn about your faith on a daily basis,” she added.

Sister Superior Mary Florence, sisters Amedia, Genovefa and Marie Genevevie, and sisters-in-training John Berchmans, Marie Aimee and Honorine began teaching high school courses in the fall of 1917 to keep education on pace with the city’s growing Catholic community.

St. Philip will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Oct. 6-7 with a number of events, including a centennial celebration in the school’s Sheila Guerra Gymnasium. Some of the celebrations began earlier this month.

Kyra Rabbitt, director of student services, hosted a centennial party and gave students a walking history tour on Sept. 8. She took the students to the front of the church that St. Philip purchased from Quakers in 1867 for $1,200 and to the elementary school building that opened in 1911 and six years later became a second home for high school students.

The school’s basketball team played its first season in 1924, but students but kept an eye on other sports and cheered for professional teams, according to St. Philip historian Sheri Rebotham. 

The basketball players called themselves the Cagers for 11 years, but changed the team’s name to Fighting Tigers in 1935 in honor of the Detroit Tigers, who won the World Series that year.

In 1945, 11 Fighting Tigers set aside sports and fought in World War II. 

Women ran the school for the first 60 years, but St. Philip hired its first male principal in 1972.

In 1993, seniors traveled to Notre Dame while the famous football movie, “Rudy,” was being filmed and took photos with the star of the show. Seniors still travel to the South Bend university every year to keep in touch with their Catholic roots.

“St. Philip is not large in numbers, but we’re big in heart,” said Madison Haywood, a senior. “There are 27 students in my grade, but we’ve known each other for so long that it’s practically like a family.”

Contact Battle Creek Enquirer education reporter Noe Hernandez at 269-966-0684 or nhernandez@battlecreekenquirer.com.

Celebrating 100 Years

Schedule of Events:

Oct. 6

  • What: Centennial Celebration
  • When: 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: St. Philip Catholic Central High School, Sheila Guerra Gymnasium, 20 Cherry St.

Oct. 7

  • What: Alumni Tailgate
  • When: 11:30 a.m.
  • Where: St. Philip parking lot

 

  • What: Homecoming Parade 
  • When: 12:45 p.m.
  • Where: From St. Philip to C.W. Post Field 

 

  • What: Introduction of 2017 Hall of Fame Class
  • When: 1:15 p.m.
  • Where: C.W. Post Field

 

  • What: Mass
  • When: 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: St. Philip Catholic Church

Article source: http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/story/news/2017/09/29/st-philip-celebrates-100-years-faith-and-education-battle-creek/707724001/

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