Ronald McDonald does not show up to most 50-year-olds’ birthday parties. But for the St. Louise de Marillac School in LaGrange this weekend, an exception was made.

About half of St. Louise’s student population joined the famous clown this past Saturday at a birthday party commemorating the building’s 50th anniversary. According to Principal Michele Bancroft, the bash drew nearly 150 students, and included games, cake and ice cream. The St. Louise de Marillac Parish boundaries include parts of both LaGrange Park and Brookfield.

The student festivities were followed later that evening with an adult reception, bringing together parents, alumni, and former and current school and parish staff members. Over 200 people attended this event, Bancroft said, adding that the class of 1962 was the most represented, with 10 members.

“It was a nice evening for socializing, meeting old friends, talking over old times,” Bancroft said.

Bancroft, who has been at St. Louise for the past nine years, said the school has been an important part of the parish throughout its history. In fact, construction of the school was completed in 1957 while the congregation was still meeting in the auditorium of Brook Park School, just a stone’s throw away, awaiting the completion of the church across the street.

“The school has always been a part of St. Louise,” she said. “We’ve always coexisted with one another.”

The original school, built for $400,000 between 1956 and 1957, included 14 classrooms and was designed to hold 550 students. An addition was constructed soon after in the early 1960s. The school staff was originally comprised of nuns from the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda, but Bancroft said today the faculty is made up of purely lay teachers to instruct the school’s 221 students.

In her time there, Bancroft said there haven’t been many academic changes at the school, but she and the staff are always working with students to increase their extracurricular opportunities. She said that the 50-year milestone has mainly served as a reminder of the school’s place in the parish and its surrounding communities.

“I can see how much we are needed and appreciated by the number of people who came back,” she said. “I think a lot of our grads have given to the community, and we’ve always appreciated the support we’ve gotten back from the community because of that.”