Nichlas Schaal, music instructor at St. Anthony School in Tigard, introduces the students who would perform the new school song at an alumni centennial celebration. The song’s chorus exhorts: ‘Love, learn, serve, amen.’ (Kristen Hannum/Catholic Sentinel)
Nichlas Schaal, music instructor at St. Anthony School in Tigard, introduces the students who would perform the new school song at an alumni centennial celebration. The song’s chorus exhorts: ‘Love, learn, serve, amen.’ (Kristen Hannum/Catholic Sentinel)
TIGARD — St. Anthony alumnus Tom McGuire, eighth grade class of 1966, said he was able to attend the school because of the love the community had for his father, a doctor who had cared for medical needs of the priests and nuns at the Tigard parish and school.

When Dr. McGuire died, young Tom was 9 — and his youngest brother was just 4.

The St. Anthony community made sure all five of the McGuire children were able to attend the school.

“It laid the foundation for the rest of my life,” said McGuire, now 69.

The school is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with an ambitious plan to demolish the old school and build anew — and McGuire is pleased to be part of it.

“I consider it a privilege to give back,” he said at the anniversary fundraising celebration May 14.

Some attending the celebration were squarely behind the project. “We needed a new building when I was principal here,” said Jeananne Bloudek, principal from 1995 to 2009.

Others were, at least initially, not certain. Ellen White Kroessin, eighth grade class of 1972, said she was distressed to learn of the plan to demolish her school, an emotion that only grew stronger as she toured the treasured old building.

Then she heard Steve Miller talk. Miller, a member of the building committee, spoke to a room filled with alumni at the St. Anthony parish center. The crowd had toured the school, visited with one another while looking at historic displays, eaten lunch and applauded those being honored for achievements and service.

Miller was one of the last speakers before a musical number and the 5 p.m. Mass. Urging alumni and parents of alums to step up, he listed the reasons a new building was needed, in particular classrooms that could accommodate the technology now needed in education.

“And there are the seismic considerations,” Miller said.

Kroessin heard that.

“An hour ago I was devastated,” she said after Miller had spoken. “Then the lightbulb went on. For the safety of the children, I totally agree. A new school is needed and the time to act is now.”

Julie Cook Lee, a retired educator whose children were in the classes of 2002 and ’05, had known a new building was needed. “When you walk through the building it brings back a lot of memories,” she said. “But I know what a school building needs to provide and this one isn’t capable of what is needed.”

McGuire said the new building also will provide memories for its students and teachers, and he said he believes what is essential about the school will live on. “Respect,” he said. “We were taught to respect each other and our teachers for sure.”

McGuire laughed about his experiences in going to Fowler Junior High School for ninth grade after graduating from St. Anthony. On his first day at Fowler, he would automatically stand up whenever a teacher entered the room — a respectful gesture students gave teachers at St. Anthony School.

McGuire, of course, was the only one standing at Fowler.