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EFFINGHAM — St. Anthony schools kicked off their 150th anniversary celebration Sunday with a Mass, lunch and carnival.

Kick-off attendees experienced a carnival-like atmosphere inside the grade school, complete with games, activities and music. Parish families explored every level of the grade school, each one boasting a game put on by student or teacher volunteers.

Tiffiny Wrigley and her husband and their two kids, Katie, 11, and Owen, 7, found the toilet paper toss on the upper level of the school.

As her kids tossed the taped T.P. into a mock "toilet", Tiffiny Wrigley said the carnival was a perfect way to celebrate the school and parish's anniversary.

"They are having a blast," Tiffiny Wrigley said of her children. "They've been looking forward to it. They've been hearing about it at school, and so they're very excited."

Tiffiny Wrigley said that her family had been looking forward to the celebration because she and her husband attended St. Anthony schools, and now, three of their children do as well.

St. Anthony Grade School Principal Matthew Sturgeon said the carnival followed an 11 a.m. Mass celebrated by the Rev. Mark Tracy, the Rev. Chuck Edwards and Deacon Joe Emmerich and a lunch for all of the parish families.

"The idea behind the grade school carnival was really to promote family fun," Sturgeon said. "Obviously, 150 years of Catholic education wouldn't be possible without the dedicated support of our families that choose a faith-based education, and as a result, we really wanted to celebrate them here to kick off the 150th year."

Sturgeon said the carnival was the brainchild of preschool teacher Kortney Willenborg, second grade teacher Gina Gardewine and fifth grade teacher Ashley Bierman. The trio had been planning the carnival activities since June, and Sunday's event would not have been possible without their dedication and creativity, he said.

A 150th anniversary committee of teachers, administrators, parish members, board of education members and students also assisted with the kick-off event, and the committee has already planned future events and activities to mark the schools' birthday.

In addition to Sunday's carnival and kick-off Mass and meal, St. Anthony schools will team up to construct a float for the Effingham Halloween parade. Sturgeon said the float's theme will be "Beauty and the Bulldog," a nod to the Disney movie "Beauty and the Beast" and the parade's Disney theme.

Anniversary events will run all the way to April. Sturgeon said a Nov. 4 high school open house is planned, and the high school homecoming basketball game on Dec. 7 will focus on the anniversary as well.

The grade school will also host an open house on Feb. 13, and a closing Mass celebrated by Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki will take place April 28.

For more information on the anniversary events, visit www.stanthony.com.

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