by Katie Peterson
Special to The Leaven
LEAVENWORTH — On June 2, 2017, Immaculata High School closed its doors after more than 100 years educating young Catholics in the Leavenworth community.
Established in 1912, Immaculata was the sole Catholic high school in Leavenworth that entire time.
So when the closing was announced in February 2017, the sadness was felt throughout the community.
But thanks to the Leavenworth Knights of Columbus Council 900, Immaculata’s legacy will live on in the council’s hall, which will house the years of class photos, championship sports banners and trophies.
“When the announcement was made that Immaculata was going to close is when the Knights brought it to my attention and we discussed it,” said Grand Knight Marty Moreno. “Then, after some deep thinking and after prayer, we decided that we had to become the key historians for Immaculata. If we didn’t take that on, these photos would be lost.”
Following the initial discussion, Moreno reached out to the school board, which approved of the proposal, and the Knights went to work, raising money and gathering the memorabilia.
Thanks to $7,000 in donations from the Immaculata Alumni Association, the booster club, the class of 2017 and numerous Immaculata families, they were able to purchase two large photo racks to hold the class photos.
Moreno said it was only fitting for the Knights to house the items.
“The Knights of Columbus Hall has always been a place where the school would come and celebrate a victory after a good football game and where the class reunions are still held to this day,” he said.
“So, it’s only appropriate that we properly display the cherished memories for the Catholic school and all the people that were involved for all those years,” he added.
The Knights of Columbus have always been strong supporters of Catholic education, but the decision to take on the preservation of the high school’s memorabilia ran deeper, Moreno said.
“We have more than 300 members in this council and at least half are Imac alumni,” he said. “So, they have strong ties to the school [and] it goes on through generations.”
“[The opportunity] was sentimental to them,” he continued. “When we first gathered to discuss this, they really expressed their heartfelt concerns about the school and what would happen to everything that was inside that could be lost forever if nobody [stepped] up and took ownership of the precious photos.”
The first opportunity for the public to view the photos and the rest of the memorabilia will be at the Imac Mixer sponsored by the alumni association from 6-10 p.m. on June 30 at the Knights of Columbus Hall. Interested parties can RSVP online at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
After that night, Moreno said the collection is always open to view by calling (913) 250-5258.
Moreno is proud to see it all come to fruition.
“This is our way of honoring all those who have walked through the halls of Immaculata Catholic High School and remembering all the good times they had, like winning the championship game of 1962,” Moreno said.
“Seeing the Knights working together to preserve the school’s precious memories is something that I am proud of,” he added. “We are committed to keeping the spirit alive for the school, the staff that worked through all those years, the alumni and their families.
“It’s a place where grandchildren and great-grandchildren can come and see the legacy of Immaculata High School. And I think if there is one thing we can do for those families, this is it for generations to come.”