Happy B-Day, Hilltoppers: Marquette High turns 150
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will attend his 35th high school reunion this weekend and literally everyone who ever attended or instructed at the institution has been invited to attend the celebration.
Barrett is a 1972 graduate of Marquette University High School, which will mark its 150th anniversary with a series of weekend events that is expected to draw up to 3,000 attendees from all corners of the globe.
"It's going to be fun," Barrett said. "I'm looking forward to seeing all my classmates on Friday night."
On Saturday, the all-school celebration will feature an open house - dubbed "The Great Homecoming" from noon to 3 p.m., followed by a celebratory mass at 4 p.m. at the Al McGuire Center on Marquette University's campus and then an evening party at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin.
"This is a very emotional week for us," said John Cary, executive director of the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) and chairman of the vent along with his wife, Mary.
"Knowing that 60 teachers will be at The Great Homecoming and that 50 priests for Mass in "The Al" with the Archbishop (Timothy Dolan); that 1,700 students will come back for the Great Homecoming and nearly 3,000 for the Mass and then the Discovery World party; it is pretty amazing."
The guest list should be remarkable, too.
The all-male school, located at 3401 W. Wisconsin Ave. since 1925, has produced an array of notable alums, including Barrett, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and his predecessor, E. Michael McCann, numerous municipal and circuit court judges, doctors, lawyers and captains of local industry.
In recent weeks, OnMilwaukee.com asked several Marquette High graduates to list the most memorable moments from their time at the school and to talk about the impact it had on their adult lives. Almost universally, the responses touched upon friendship, the Jesuit education and the public service awareness fostered by the Shared Life program that requires students to volunteer for two weeks at 75 different schools and other agencies.
"Marquette teaches its students to be 'men for others,'" said Dan Smyczek, director of public relations for the Bucks. "When I look back to that instruction, along with the terrific example from my parents, I think it provided a solid foundation."
Jon Greenberg, president of the Admirals hockey team, agreed. "I believe that Marquette really helped me to reinforce the morals and values that my parents tried to teach me growing up," Greenberg said. "Between the Jesuit faculty and the lay teachers, it was very evident that I was learning from people of a high-moral caliber.
"My advisor, Father Don Driscoll, passed away recently and we had a memorial service for him at the high school and the amount of students from many eras of Marquette High that came to pay tribute reconfirmed to me that I learned from a special person in a building full of special people.
"Marquette has long had a history of supporting the Merrill Park neighborhood, as well as the rest of the city. The students get out and make an impact in the city in the Senior Shared Life project. Many of us have gone on to bigger things... The things we all learned at Marquette are things that help us every day in how we think and act."
Barrett called the school "a place that nurtures leadership and service as well."
"The teachers expected a lot from you," Barrett said. "I would say on a personal note, what it did for me is it gave me confidence.
"It was, I think, a really good education that allowed me to do better in college than I did in high school. I think that's an experience for a lot of students there."
Cary also credited the teachers.
"I think the most lasting was the reality that you went to a great school where lots of parents, kids and teachers sacrificed to make it happen," he said. "The Jesuits were very special then. They still are; there are just fewer of them now. We had about 35 in the school when I was a student. They challenged you to do your best. You could be good in sports, theater, speech, debate, school -- it didn't matter. Excellence was an acceptable thing to aspire to. Some of the best students were the best athletes."
Marquette's enrollment in 2006-'07 was 1,051, with students coming from 160 different primary schools (parochial, private and public) in five counties. With tuition and fees that total more than $8,000 per school year, the school has a reputation as both a rigorous academic institution and an enclave of the well-heeled. However, financial aid programs ensure a broad cross-section of students.
"Overall, the way we got along with guys from all over was special," said Cary, a 1969 graduate who was mentored as a freshman by "big brother" Rick Majerus, whom he later followed to Marquette University.
"I was from Bay View, one of a few, yet I met kids from everywhere. I was never afraid to go in different areas of the metro area since I knew kids from (Marquette).
"To this day, when someone says 'Where did you go to school?' I always say 'Marquette High' first."
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