Hegewisch pride is running high this week thanks to the great news that St. Florian School will remain open. This neighborhood, which may be considered small compared to many of its Chicago counterparts, is never lacking in the size of its heart.
It's easy to see on a large scale like the community's efforts to save the school, but you also see it every day when you drive through town. During this horrible winter, I noticed neighbors helping each other with snowblowing and shoveling. In the summer, I see residents come together for block parties and throughout the year, I see supporters enjoying a breakfast or dinner with the local Knights of Columbus volunteers.
It's time again for a Knights of Columbus General Pulaski Council 3323 spaghetti dinner, which will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at St. Columba Social Center, 13323 S. Greenbay Ave. in Hegewisch.
Dine on all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatballs with meat sauce, salad, bread, dessert, coffee and milk. Carry outs are available. Price is $8 for adults, $5 for children 10 and younger.
If you read the news article I wrote for Saturday's paper, you know that St. Florian supporters had their prayers answered on Friday when the Archdiocese stated the school can remain open as long as it continues to be financially self-sustaining. Many in the Hegewisch community worked tirelessly to turn this lofty goal into a reality. They collected money during tag days, held special event fundraisers and started various social media campaigns to spread word of the effort.
It was really inspiring to see all their hard work pay off for the St. Florian students and our community as a whole.
Michael Dejanovich, who has two daughters attending St. Florian and three daughters who graduated from the school, was a happy dad when I spoke to him Friday night. He said he felt scared when the Archdiocese originally slated the school for closure.
“What would Pope Francis say about this? He’s a common man and Hegewisch is made up of the common man, we’re from all walks of life. We’re glad this is staying open. A lot of the community depends on the school and the parish. If the school goes, I’m afraid the parish will go. I’m thinking Hegewisch will stay strong and stable too by this announcement.”
His daughter Sarah Dejanovich, who graduated from St. Florian in 2005, said, “This wasn’t just a one-month effort and now it’s done. We have a long way to go. This is great news and we have a great team supporting us. Look what we’ve done in a month.”
She said they can now have more time to plan activities and fundraisers, including an annual winter banquet and annual summer fest in support of the school.
Those feelings of joy and optimism were echoed by other St. Florian supporters.
"I’m beyond excited,” said committee member Sammantha Brooks of news the school would remain open. “We’ve worked so hard for it. The biggest thing for everyone to remember is that we still have a lot to do. We’re going to continue as hard as we were when we were trying to keep the school open.
“We did so well in such little time and we were hoping they would see how much work we did and give us the thumbs up.”
Brooks, who attended St. Florian from nursery school through sixth grade and is one of the lead committee persons for social media and community outreach, said her heart is at St. Florian.
“I can’t wait for two years for my daughter to be able to go to preschool there.”