MILWAUKEE -- Like the new tree planted outside the high school, Messmer Catholic Schools have their roots planted firmly in Milwaukee.
"Today, September 13th, 2016," said Jim Piatt, the President of Messmer Schools. "Is the 90th anniversary of the opening of Messmer."
The milestone was commemorated with Founders Day ceremonies at four different locations, including a visit by Mayor Tom Barrett.
Since it started back in 1926, Messmer has expanded into now three different schools serving almost 1,700 students from low-income families throughout the city.
“It actually has turned me into a new person," Messmer senior Marquasia Lampley said. "I literally have overcome obstacles and barriers because of Messmer.”
But it wasn’t always easy. The school actually closed its doors briefly in the 1980's, which made Tuesday’s celebration that much more meaningful for the people that saved the school.
“We’re helping so many children," said Pete Salza, who was an attorney for the Save Messmer Committee. "And they are doing so well at formulating the education and moving on, that I can’t feel prouder than I do right now.”
The moment was also not lost on those that benefit from all that work today.
“I care about it a lot," said Messmer senior Jamario Walker. "And I know they care about it like really, so much, to actually save it and bring it back to help out all of us to get these great opportunities.”
Founder’s Day was a chance to look back on Messmer’s history, while keeping an eye on the future.
“Messmer’s importance in Milwaukee, first and foremost, is to confront what many of us in education know is a literacy crisis," Piatt said. "Too few young children in Milwaukee are reading at grade level, and we’re not going to get truly healthy until that’s corrected."
A reminder of the work still to come.