50th Anniversary Celebrations
Fifty years ago this September the Archdiocese of Omaha, with the help of generous donors Daniel and Louise Gross, built Gross Catholic High School to meet the critical need for Catholic education in Sarpy County and south Omaha. Archbishop Gerald T. Bergan invited priests and brothers from the Society of Mary and the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to assist in creating the Gross Catholic community. Brother Leo Willett, S.M., the first principal, opened the school on Sept. 3, 1968, with a freshman class of 175 students. The Class of 1972 graduated on May 28, 1972, and became the first of more than 8,300 alumni.
“We have been blessed with a rich history and the opportunity to educate leaders for the future – helping our students grow both academically and spiritually as pa rt of our Marianist heritage. We stand on the threshold of our 50th anniversary with great anticipation and enthusiasm. This is a time of growth. A time of renewal. A time of innovation. And as we look to the future, we are confident in our direction and remain committed to our mission,” said Dr. Dorothy A. Ostrowski, Gross Catholic High School president.
To commemorate this historic event, Gross Catholic celebrated with a special homecoming weekend that hosted nearly 1,000 Cougar alumni, families, students, and friends of Gross Catholic.
The 50th Anniversary weekend kicked-off on Friday, September 14 with a pre-game tailgate for the entire family featuring food trucks and live music followed by the homecoming football game where the Cougars claimed a 42-0 victory against Schuyler. During halftime, the Class of 1972 was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Festivities continued on Saturday with the Under the Sea homecoming dance and coronation for students at Gross Catholic. Seniors Nyarok Lam and Scott Collins were crowned Homecoming Queen and King.
Students pictured: Mary Kate Nosbisch – Sophomore, Nadia Podkovich – Sophomore, Charles Monico – Sophomore, Zachary Ciurej – Sophomore, Rachel Jacobson – Junior, Achtij Aliyg – Junior, Abby Dostal – Junior, Nolan Lewandowski – Junior, Kaden Robison – Junior, Brandon Villanueva – Junior, Madison Culhane – Senior, Abigail Dickey – Senior, Riley Donahoe – Senior, Nyarok Lam – Senior, Joslinn Mill – Senior, Scott Collins – Senior, Jonah Gilardi – Senior, Justin Kaczmarek – Senior, Michael Monico – Senior, and Benjamin Yanovich – Senior.
An all-alumni (21 and over) reunion was also held at the Bellevue Berry Farm. More than 200 Cougar alumni from every decade danced the night away and shared their favorite high school memories by the bonfire. HTM Sales, Wichita Heating and Cooling, Scriptown Brewing Company, Rotellas Italian Bakery, Amy Huck State Farm, Jeff Moore State Farm, Dr. Jane Carnazzo – Children’s Physicians and Forrester’s Financial – Mr. Bob Stutzman, generously sponsored the event.
The weekend continued with a special anniversary Mass at Gross Catholic and breakfast with the Pancake Man on Sunday. Fr. Ryan Lewis presided over Mass and more than 200 Cougar Alumni and their families were in attendance.
The 50th Anniversary culminated with a record year for our Cougar Classic Golf Outing. The event sold out with 160 golfers taking to Eagle Hills Course to show off their golf skills. Matt McWilliams (Class of 2004), Kyle Longenecker (Class of 2004), Bart Protzman (Class of 2004) and Greg Acero took home the title of Cougar Classic champions with a final score of -20 under par and donned the coveted orange blazers. The event raised more than $43,000 to support athletic programs and scholarship opportunities for students at Gross Catholic.
Special thanks to volunteer event chairs Jim Riha, Dorothy Riha, Scott Riha (Class of 1991), Tim Riha (Class of 1996) and Tricia (Riha) Hughes (Class of 1992) for organizing an outstanding event!
“We are grateful to all of the golfers, event sponsors and volunteers who made this year’s Cougar Classic a tremendous success. Thanks to their tireless dedication to our school, we were able to raise much-needed funds for the mission of Gross Catholic,” said Dr. Dorothy Ostrowski, Gross Catholic President. “This was the perfect ending to our 50th Anniversary kick-off weekend.”