Stagg students, faculty and staff took Friday off to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary and homecoming with a parade starting in Hickory Hills and ending at the football field in Palos Hills.
Over 900 participants marched down Roberts Road behind Amos Alonzo Stagg's great-grandson, Mark Stagg, and his son Gavin, 9. Students marched with signs that represented their different athletic team or extracurricular activities.
"We are very proud and excited to be in the parade and this is a huge honor to be asked to come out and celebrate the school's 50th anniversary," Stagg said. "I'm glad my son and I were able to come out and represent the Stagg family."
Amos Alonzo Stagg was a standout football and baseball player for Yale University who went on to coach four sports at the University of Chicago. The school was named for him in 1964 in recognition of his commitment to develop young athletes on and off the playing field.
The parade was largely organized by the schools' student council.
"This took a lot of planning and we hope that the students are excited for homecoming and the community comes out to celebrate," said Stagg junior Judy Nunez. "We want to bring the tradition back and we hope that everyone enjoys what we have planned for months."
"The students played a huge role in the planning and that's why we have close to 900 participants who are in an organization or co-curricular activity participating in the parade," said Principal Eric Olsen. "Given this is our 50th anniversary and homecoming ,this is a celebration of Stagg's community, the different activities at Stagg and we decided to march down Roberts Road to thank the communities we serve for their support."
For nearly two miles, residents of Hickory Hills and Palos Hills watched as students dressed in school colors threw out candy.
"We are very proud to celebrate our anniversary with such great students and staff," said Assistant Principal Ian MacLeod. "Everyone is fired up for the parade and homecoming and the students are excited to be part of the 50th anniversary."
After the parade, students packed the Charger football field for a pre-game pep-rally to support the football team. As part of the anniversary celebration and homecoming football game, more than 70 alumni band members performed with the current band.
Katie Alstadt, math teacher and color guard staff, kept in touch with a large alumni base and helped to coordinate with Conrady Junior High School to borrow instruments for the alumni band's show, in a scene similar to one from the 1995 hit film "Mr. Holland's Opus," Olsen said.
The events required numerous permits and resources, put together by students over three months of planning.
"In addition to just students, we have local police, fire and EMS marching along with us," Olsen said. "The cities of Palos Hills and Hickory Hills have been absolutely amazing and made the planning process a lot easier and we want to thank those communities for their continuous support of the high school."