School is one of those places that leaves an indelible mark on you. Raise your hand if you STILL have dreams or nightmares about your school days. One of my consistent dreams about school was the locker. I dreamt that I could not remember which locker number was mine; or how about the nightmare where I somehow managed to miss going to one of my classes the whole school year, and I never actually graduated! Those memories came flooding back as I walked down one of the hallways lined with lockers. To this day, I still don’t remember my locker number! Today, I got to relive those “dreams” as my husband and I visited my Alma Mater during the St. Mary’s Catholic Parish Harvest Festival held at St. Thomas Aquinas Middle and High School in David City, Nebraska.
The main entrance to the school has not changed much, the school office is located to the left as you enter the building, a display case of student’s art work is on the right, and a little further down you will find class pictures of all of the graduating classes. There are also pictures of past administrators, Monsignor Herbek was the school administrator during my time. He was at the event this year. He is 84 years old, but you would never know it – he still looks great and is still very much sharp as a tack. Monsignor Herbek served at Aquinas from 1966-1995. Despite being retired from active priesthood, Monsignor Herbek continues to assist local parishes and priests by stepping in to serve mass as needed. He had just came from mass at a local church, and was on his way to serve mass in Fairbury, Nebraska.
I wondered if I would see anyone else from my High School days, when two sisters came and sat down directly across from us at our table. Sister Michaelene was my English teacher and I absolutely loved her English class, especially reading. One of the books I remember her introducing us to was “The Outsiders,” which is also a movie with a lot of well known actors. If you haven’t read the book or seen the mini-series, you have to check them out. I also loved learning Greek Mythology (sorry, I didn’t do as well in English Grammar, sister). Sister Michaelene has dedicated her life to teaching at St. Aquinas and St. Mary for more than 30 years.
Walking down the hallway lined with school lockers took me down memory lane to a younger time in my life, a time of school uniforms, football games, tornado drills, English, Social Studies and so much more… I have been back to Aquinas a couple times these past few years, and we drive by it often on the way back home to visit my family. I have yet to make a class reunion, mainly because I keep waiting to look great (but that is another story). Aquinas High School was named after St. Thomas Aquinas the patron saint of Catholic schools and a well-known scholar from the Christian era. Aquinas opened its doors on September 5, 1961, with an enrollment of 295 students from 13 Parishes across three Nebraska counties. The school is situated in the heart of agriculture, on the outskirts of town in Butler County.
The school has changed A LOT, since my time there in “85” is alive, baby.” A chapel was built in 1999. Before then, the mass was always held in the school gym. A second gym has been added, and a middle school was added in 1986. The Harvest Festival is a huge fundraising event for the St. Mary’s Parish in David City.
There is a lot to do at the Harvest Festival, so it is important to start off fueled up starting with the Turkey dinner. The meal comes with a healthy serving of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing covered in gravy and a side of corn and that is just to start. After our plates are loaded down, we take our tray to the DESSERT table. There we find an endless array of homemade pies to choose from but there is still more! At the table, itself are bread baskets overflowing with more homemade buns, croissants, and rolls, as well as large bowls filled with cranberry sauce and coleslaw. Beverages are served by youth from the local parishes. Believe me, when I say you will not leave the table hungry, and all this for the low cost of $12.00 per person. If you don’t feel like eating in they also offer meals to go.
The Harvest Festival has so much more to offer though than just dinner. School rooms are set-up with all sorts of games of chance with all of the proceeds going to sustain the parish so that it can continue to serve the community. The Harvest Festival offers a chance for you to bid on donated items on tables as part of their silent auction, or maybe you can bid on larger items donated up on stage. I would have loved to see who got the drone with HD video!
Every year my Mom does the cake walk, this year she came away with two cakes. Unfortunately, we ended up taking the German chocolate cake back home with us ( I think it is her evil plot to keep us fat). 😂
If you enjoy getting out and away from the big city crowds, google what is going on in some of the smaller towns around you. Often the drive to get there is just as enjoyable as the actual event you are going to. We really enjoyed our time at the Harvest Festival and I am sure that we will be back next year. There is nothing more fulfilling then attending an event like this and knowing that you are also supporting local communities. The Harvest Festival has something for everyone. 🙋♀️ Winter is coming up soon where will you find us at next?