Four basketball games took place last Friday at the St. Mary’s High School gymnasium in Independence for the last time.
The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph announced last month the school will close at the end of the school year because of declining enrollment. It has been around for 160 years.
The captain of the cheerleaders, a senior, shares her thoughts. Her name is Emily Echlin, the daughter of KCUR sports contributor Greg Echlin.
"I’m thinking about how it’s going to be at the last basketball game I’m going to cheer at. Or any game I will cheer at," Emily said during the school day before the games.
"The teachers at St. Mary’s are always really hard-working and they are some of the best teachers around. I am sure that they are even more upset than some of the students are just because they’ve been around St. Mary’s for a lot longer than students and families have."
Later that night, in the gym for the games, Emily said: "At first I was nervous. Then once I saw everyone coming in that had come to support the teams, it was a really good feeling just knowing that everyone was there."
An announcer said over the PA: "Tonight we want to give young ladies, who are in grade school or junior high who always wanted to play on this court the opportunity to come down on this court. So if you’re a grade schooler or a junior high student that wants to be on this court, please come down right now and the cheerleaders will show you where to stand."
"I think that was one of the most emotional parts of the night. My little sister is in sixth grade and I know that she was hoping to one day go to St. Mary’s and eventually become alumni like my brother and I. She could even play volleyball or do cheerleading there and just live on what we started. So it was upsetting that she can’t do that," Emily said.
"It’s sad that that was the last game ever and it was sad for me that it was my last cheerleading event that I’ll ever cheer at. But it’s sweet because better things are coming like graduation for our seniors. Trying to make better memories for our underclassmen because the final three months of school get underway."