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Kasper reflects on Catholic education

The 16th annual St. John Vianney Dinner Dance will be held in one week, at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 25.

Tickets are available at St. John Vianney School or can be obtained by calling (507) 235-5304.

Principal Sarah Striemer discussed how the evening’s events will unfold.

“We begin our evening with a social hour, and then we have a sit-down dinner, which our fifth- and sixth-grade students will help serve,” she said. “Any of the tips they receive will be put toward their sixth-grade trip.

“After dinner, we’ll have our speakers. We first listen to our Friends of St. John Vianney, Frank and Kate Winzenburg, and then our alumni speaker, Kevin Kasper. Kevin is the son of Frank and Kate Kasper and was one of six family members to receive a Catholic education in Fairmont. Kevin attended first grade at St. Paul Convent School and subsequently St. John Vianney, graduating with the eighth-grade class in 1961.”

Kasper graduated from Fairmont High School in 1965, then applied and gained acceptance at both the University of Notre Dame and Marquette University. He would eventually go on to found an advertising firm, and then build two new companies.

Kasper and his wife, Jane, have been married for 46 years. They have two children, Bill and Emily, and four grandchildren.

Kasper shared some memories of his time at St. John Vianney.

“We had nuns back in those days and nuns were a very important part of that whole program and that faith-based experience you get at a parochial school,” he said. “It just gives you a completely different perspective than you would probably get in a public school setting.

“You get a perspective that is confidence building, because God is on your side. How can you do better than that?”

Kasper described how his time at St. John Vianney helped shape his perception of the world.

“I have very positive associations with all the teachers,” he said. “It was an experience you get from having people who understand how to look for the good in people. It’s really easy when you get out in the working world to meet someone who’s not dressed the way you think they should be, and maybe they’re kind of sloppy. Instead you look at the work they’re getting done and what a great person they are, and that’s the kind of teaching that you get at a Catholic School.”

Kasper said he is glad to be able to come back to the school.

“This is a first for me, I’ve never spoke at a fundraiser before,” he said. “I hope to share some of the highlights of how both the education and discipline contributed to some aspects of my success, and have some fun along the way.

“I think fundraisers like this for St. John Vianney are essential,” he continued. “It’s vital and great for the community to have a quality school like St. John Vianney that nourishes and enriches the family. I’m proud to be giving back to our church; it’s been an important part of our Kasper family upbringing.”

A live auction also will take place at the event, at which each class has put together a gift basket containing a variety of items. Striemer noted that Tom and Laura Spitzer have donated two Vikings season tickets. There also will be a raffle, and everything is followed up by a dance.

“This event is something that is fun for the community,” Striemer said. “We don’t have very many events in our area where you get to get all dressed up and have something formal for the adults. It’s a great way to emphasize the wonderful things happening here at our school and show our appreciation to the people that support us.”

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