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IC School to celebrate 125 years in Charles City

IC School to celebrate 125 years in Charles City
By James Grob,

Immaculate Conception Elementary School in Charles City will be celebrating its 125th year of educating young minds next week, with events, ceremonies and other activities planned throughout.

Elementary School Principal Laurie Field said that technically, classes actually started 126 years ago at IC, but last year was not the best time to celebrate an anniversary.

“It will be a full week,” Field said of this year’s event. “There will be volunteers and hopefully a lot of alumni showing up for us.”

Currently serving 178 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, Immaculate Conception Catholic School was founded in 1896 and staffed by the Cedar Rapids Sisters of Mercy as Immaculate Conception Academy, built for grades 1-12, with both boarding and day students.

In the time between then and now, the school and the church have survived floods, fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

“We appreciate the people of Charles City giving us 125 years to be a part of this community,” Field said.

In the years leading up to 1896, a missionary priest first offered Mass in a Charles City home in 1854, and nearly 10 years later the first resident priest came to establish Immaculate Conception Parish. From 1870-1885, Mass was celebrated in the basement of the church until the original church was completed.

Next week, there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, with the Chamber of Commerce and alumni invited, and students will gather at the flagpole at 8:30 a.m. for a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

On Wednesday, students will unveil banners that show and discuss what the school day was like throughout various decades. The students are researching and creating the banners.

“I think it will be a good learning experience for the students,” Field said. “When we planned the week, we wanted to do the research projects so that they could kind of visually see what happened, and so kids can at least have an idea as to what it was like.”

The archbishop of the Dubuque Archdiocese, of which IC Parish is a part, will be in attendance on Thursday for Mass at the amphitheater near the Cedar River, and former teachers, former principals and former priests have all been invited to join. After the Mass, the students will present what they learned from their banner projects, and a time capsule will be filled with items selected by the students.

Also on Thursday, there will be a family picnic at the IC ballfields, and a Chamber mingle will take place that evening at the school, which will include presentations throughout, snacks and student-led tours of the school.

Field said that both the mingle and the Mass Thursday are open to the public and “all are welcome.”

Additionally, two different groups of students will visit the Carrie Chapman Catt Home for tours and other activities on both Tuesday and Friday next week, as IC focuses on its core value of scholarship. A scavenger hunt Friday will end the week.

In the past 20 years, IC School has undergone renovations after two major floods. In 2005, the early childhood addition created space for 200 students in pre-school through sixth grade. Another 150 students participate in religious education and youth ministry activities; older youth share in liturgical ministries and parish outreach.

Over the years fires have damaged both the church and school, resulting in new structures. The 1968 tornado that destroyed much of Charles City’s downtown also destroyed Immaculate Conception Church. The present church, built in 1972, overlooks the Cedar River.

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