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updated: 3/16/2013 5:59 PM

Geneva's St. Peter School will celebrate nun's birthday

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  • Sister Johanna Murphy, on the eve of turning 100, visits with the Rev. Martens Emeh, pastor of St. Peter church in Geneva.

    Sister Johanna Murphy, on the eve of turning 100, visits with the Rev. Martens Emeh, pastor of St. Peter church in Geneva.
    courtesy of St. Peter Church

  • Sister Johanna, pictured during her time as principal of St. Peter school in Geneva, chats with student Martha Masters, now Martha Skog.

    Sister Johanna, pictured during her time as principal of St. Peter school in Geneva, chats with student Martha Masters, now Martha Skog.
    courtesy of St. Peter Church


When students and staff gather in the St. Peter School gymnasium at 2 p.m. Wednesday for a birthday party, the Geneva Fire Department may be hoping there won't be any lit candles.

Why? It would take 100 of them to adorn the cake honoring former principal, Sister Johanna Murphy.

The party idea came about when current Principal Roseann Feldmann heard about the sister's milestone birthday and decided a party was in order.

Anyone who knew Sister Johanna during her years as principal -- 1967 to 1975 -- are invited to share well-wishes as she celebrates her 100th birthday. The party at St. Peter actually is the day before her official birthday, but that won't dampen the glad tidings.

It's impressive to think this retired nun is essentially still working. She remains active in the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary congregation in Hopkins Park, helping the poor of that area.

That means Sister Johanna hasn't changed much, considering her fondest memory of St. Peter School was visiting classrooms.

"The first- and second-grade students were always excited to see me and loving, never afraid of the principal," she said. "Seeing children learn was always a highlight."

And parents haven't forgotten about that loving principal.

Marge Masters, a longtime parishioner, says her son was in fifth grade when her husband died, making it a difficult time for everyone. She got a call from Sister Johanna one day, saying her son, Dick, was pulled out of class for throwing paper airplanes.

"But Sister told me she brought him to her office so he could fly the planes without being disturbed," Masters said. "She loved the children and was loved by everyone."

Some band recognition: St. Charles North band director Jim Strombes gets some well-deserved recognition as Music Educator of the Year during the Elgin Youth Symphony concerts Sunday at Elgin Community College's Blizzard Theatre.

The annual award puts the stage lights directly on a music teacher who has put a lot of effort into supporting the EYSO.

But it also illustrates how many of Strombes' students have taken his advice about participating in the orchestra, which exposes these young people to spellbinding musical experiences.

Strombes has been directing music students at St. Charles North since 2000, when he put the school's first program together.

Another role for Ethan: The last time I talked to Ethan Cutkosky, he was having a blast with his job in Los Angeles. At that time, two years ago, Ethan was an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Bell-Graham Elementary in Campton Hills.

His job was in Hollywood on the set of "Shameless," a drama-comedy airing on Showtime about an extremely dysfunctional family.

"Shameless" continues to plug away, and now Ethan will also appear on an upcoming episode of "Law & Order: SVU."

Reports from say the St. Charles resident will play a troubled youth in an episode that will examine what happens to youngsters with a capacity for violence who do not receive needed help.

It's just another entry on Ethan's resume, which includes previous roles in "The Unborn" and "Fred Claus."

We'll keep watching as this young actor makes his way through the Hollywood landscape.

Welcoming this bank: For years now it seems, our reaction to a new building going up in the Tri-Cities area has been, "Another bank? Do we really need another bank?"

In the case of Geneva Bank & Trust recently beginning operations at the Pure Oil building on State Street, it's a welcome use of a site for which residents have a soft spot.

Area residents who have been around since the mid-1930s likely remember when gas was actually pumped into cars at the site. More recently, it was viewed as an attractive eye-catcher, mostly because of the plants on display when Pure Gardener was the tenant.

Now the old gas station serves as the drive-up portion of the bank's operation.

Former gas station sites have been transformed all across the country, but in this area the first that comes to mind is the former McCornack Oil site on the east side of St, Charles that has been the city's heritage center for years.

Noisy and nice: In taking advantage of the Batavia Restaurant Week promotion last weekend, we finally locked in our first visit to Aliano's in Batavia.

First, I consider this place a terrific victory for Batavia, considering the Island Avenue strip mall in which Aliano's is located was nearly empty two years ago -- just before residents voted against financing a new recreation center in that location. Aliano's has sparked new life into that area of Batavia.

Our dining experience fell right along the lines of the general reviews the restaurant receives online. The food was quite good, but the service is a bit slower than you may find at less-crowded restaurants.

This place was crowded and noisy, just the way a good Italian restaurant should be. In short, it proved to be a great place to dine with friends and talk as loudly as we wanted.

One of my friends put it quite well when saying, "I love seeing a crowded restaurant these days, because so many aren't."

If diners were to tell their waitress they were, say, attending a show at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre that night after dinner, I would think the waitress would accommodate that schedule.

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