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Blessing, Homecoming Conclude Cardinal Gibbons Centennial

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Cardinal Gibbons High School concluded its Centennial Celebration with a day of special events on Friday, September 25th. In the afternoon, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge blessed the Austin and Brandon Memorial Garden, a meditation walk and garden with Stations of the Cross. The garden, built by more than 300 Cardinal Gibbons students in memory of Austin Cope and Brandon Allen, two members of the Class of 2009 who lost their lives in a car accident at the start of their sophomore year, was a gift of the Class of 2009 and Brandon and Austin’s families and friends.

CGHS alumna Abby Bouchon,  speaking for her Class of ’09, called the effort of planning and preparing the garden “an amazing experience. What at first seemed to be a daunting task turned into a wonderful project.” Jack Arnold, a theology teacher and retired landscape architect who designed the garden, praised the dedication of seniors as well as other Gibbons students, staff members and faculty who worked for eight successive weekends in March, April and May and another six successive weekends in August and September to move earth, lay flagstones and plant over 400 trees and shrubs. The Stations were created as part of an Eagle Scout project by CGHS junior Benjamin J. Halula.    

Present at the blessing were Brandon Allen’s parents and brother, ( Mason, a sophomore) CGHS Principal Jason Curtis, Assistant Principal for Spiritual Life Fr. Scott McCue, and a large contingent of students, including members of the Cardinal Gibbons football team who attended a Mass celebrated by Bishop Burbidge after the blessing.

In the evening, hundreds of alumni, students, parents and community members converged on the high school for the homecoming football game. The event featured pregame, halftime and postgame festivities, including the induction during halftime of the All-Century Football Team, made up of 118 nominees, 39 of whom were present. The team members represented classes dating from 1936 to the present. Ninety-one year old Harry Stewart, nominated from the Class of ’36, shared recollections of the leather-helmet era in football, when, he recalled, “We played both sides, offense and defense. When a player was knocked out, we’d just wait till he came to and continue the game.”

The homecoming event was also an opportunity for the high school to showcase its award-winning athletic program. Visitors were able to view 100 years of CGHS sports memorabilia on display in the school cafeteria. CGHS has grown from offering students several select school-sponsored sports in the early 1900s to having over 35 teams today. Aligned with that growth, the program has also garnered statewide recognition, capturing the N.C. Wachovia Cup – the annual distinction for overall excellence in high school athletics – eight out of the last nine years.

The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, said the opening prayer at the game, and Dr. Michael Fedewa, Superintendent of Catholic Formation and Education, tossed the coin to open the contest, in which Cardinal Gibbons defeated Cedar Ridge High School 20-7. After the game, a reception in the school cafeteria honored former and current football players and their families.

Above: The family of Brandon Allen, one of the students memorialized by the garden, with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Mr. Jason Curtis, Principal of Cardinal Gibbons High School.

Above: Harry Stewart, Class of 1936, was one of 118 alumni inducted into the All Century Football Team.

Below: Brother Michele Bettigole, OFM, former Principal of CGHS, and Dr. Michael Fedewa, Superintendent of Catholic Formation and Education, speak with a Gibbons student.