St. John LaLande Catholic School celebrated its 50th anniversary Saturday at the church’s annual Parish Social.

Teresa Jones remembers St. John LaLande when it was still a church and school on Main Street in Blue Springs in the late 1950s. Her father was even a part of the school’s groundbreaking in 1958. She was later married in the school‘s gymnasium, which was then the church.

“I lived just on the corner (next to the school), so growing up, the school and church were part of my life,” she said. “It really is a special kind of family here. The atmosphere is so supportive, which I love. My three children came through school here, so celebrating 50 years leaves me a little teary eyed. It is a very special time.”

St. John LaLande Catholic School celebrated its 50th anniversary Saturday at the church’s annual Parish Social.

The original building, 805 N.W. R.D. Mize Road, was a six-classroom school and church on the 10-acre tract. One wing was the school, while the other was a church. Until a formal church was constructed, services were in what is now the school’s gymnasium. Subsequent additions were made throughout the years to make what is now St. John LaLande Church and Catholic School.

Among the activities at the celebration were field games, a barbecue dinner, a pie eating contest, entertainment and games. Earlier in the day, church and community members participated in a 5K Run/Walk. Among the other highlights was Bishop Robert Finn, who gave the Saturday evening mass and later cut a 50th anniversary cake.

“I think it is the people that make this school great,” said Donna Aldrich, a secretary for 24 years at St. John LaLande before retiring in 2003. “We have supportive families and great staff. Everyone was there whenever you needed someone, and the kids are also wonderful. St. John LaLande is a great place to be.”

Nicki Hogan was a member of the first, first grade class at St. John LaLande in 1960. She said nine of the students that year went through eighth grade at the school. Celebrating the 50th anniversary, she said, is “very exciting.”

“It is truly unbelievable that it has been so many years and this school is still going strong,” she said. “My oldest grandchild is now a student here and my daughter is a teacher. I think what makes a difference is that all of the teachers truly want to be here. Everyone knows everybody else and there is that familiarity piece. We are a close community, and I think that is still true today.”