Late dog brings joy to 1960s McNicholas students

By Isabella Daley

Snakes, turtles, and fish may be common class pets at many schools, but Archbishop McNicholas High School could say it once had a dog as a school pet.

This dog, Morgan, was a basset hound that lived in a neighborhood close to McNicholas and began roaming around the school in the late 1960s. He walked in and out of the buildings, slept in classrooms during classes, and “had the run of the place,” according to former McNicholas English teacher and librarian Kathy Bollmer. Bollmer worked at McNicholas during the same time Morgan inhabited the halls.

“The students were so used to him that it didn’t cause an uproar,” Bollmer said.  The McNicholas community enjoyed Morgan’s presence and treated him well.  The students loved Morgan, fed him well, and included them in their pranks.

“Once, someone stuck cigarettes in his collar, and he was busted for smoking,” Theology teacher Mary Beth Sandmann said.

When Morgan was not busy aiding the students in their shenanigans or sleeping through classes, he could be found in the cafeteria.  “He knew where the cafeteria was and made sure he was present for lunch each day,” Sandmann said.  As a consequence of this, “Morgan was a bit of a heavyweight,” Bollmer said.

Sandmann said that “he became a common guest [at McNicholas] and just a part of life [there],” so the students “invited Morgan to graduate with them” when the Health Department “reminded the staff that a dog in the school was not in line with their code.”  Bollmer said that the principal at the time, Sr. Janet Roesener, allowed Morgan to come to the academic awards ceremony in the old gym wearing a graduation cap.  He received a diploma and did not return to McNicholas the next year.

Bollmer said Morgan was at McNicholas for “just a couple of years,” in the 1960s, which “were a turbulent era,” but Morgan helped the school of 1100 kids feel like smaller, closer community.  “He was one of the most fun things [about McNicholas],” Bollmer said.

Morgan 2
Lunch time was Morgan’s favorite time of day to roam the McNicholas campus. Morgan, a basset hound, loved the cafeteria because students shared their lunch food with him. Photo courtesy of McNicholas High School Archives.
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Morgan, McNicholas’s former resident dog, wears a graduation cap to an annual Academic Awards ceremony. Morgan received a diploma at the ceremony at the end of his time at McNicholas in the late 1960s. Photo courtesy of McNicholas High School Archives.


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