Inaugural Super Hero Day brings a crowd to old convent

The headline on the front page of the Miles City Star announced that the old Ursuline Convent was about to be torn down. That was 25 years ago. The announcement turned out to be a bit premature.

Rather than tear the elegant Victorian building down, supporters rallied around and created the Convent Keepers, an organization that a quarter of a century later is still maintaining the building and giving a new generation of Miles Citians a reason to love it.

A new generation of city residents was introduced to the building on Saturday, as the Historic Miles City Academy, formerly known as the Ursuline Convent, and the Convent Keepers played host to their first Super Hero Day.

In addition to Batman and the batmobile and assorted other comic book and movie superheroes, there were real-life superheroes on hand. Members of the federal Bureau of Land Management Wildland Fire crews brought fire fighting equipment and demonstrated how reflective fire shelters worked. And, the Miles City Fire Department gave young attendees a chance to learn how powerful fire hoses are, as they participated in mop bucket races in the parking lot.

The National Guard superheroes were also on hand with a 38-foot “game course” for older kids to bounce through while Kangaroo Rentals donated a smaller bounce house for smaller children.

“We had a really good turn out for the first one,” said Sharon Moore, executive director of the academy. “We had a steady group of people, both young and old, throughout the event.”

Members of the North Side Ministries, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and individual volunteers also assisted with event, giving tours, serving lunch, drawing chalk superheroes on the sidewalk, and dressing in super hero costumes to add atmosphere. Miss Miles City, Miss Teen USA, Sarah Hughes-Moore, was even in attendance. 

An estimated 45 volunteers helped out.

The Super Hero Day was created to complement the Princess Day, which is held at the Academy in the spring and has proved to be a dependable fundraiser and introduction to the building. Both events bring in young people and their parents, grandparents and other friends and relatives, who often tour the building and find out just what a busy place the Academy is.

The fundraising was as successful as the rest of the day, with $1,375 raised. “That will go toward the maintenance and preservation of the building, including some special projects,” said Moore. “We’re working towards installing wireless smoke detectors in the building and we want to install a sprinkler system for the lawn.”

“It’s important to get a lawn sprinkler system,” explained Moore. “Currently we have one volunteer for the large lawn at the Academy and it’s difficult to find other volunteers who want to move pipes and dedicate the amount of time to water the lawn, so we’ve prioritized this project. We will be looking for donations and grant money to take care of this project within the next year.”

In addition to all the people who helped, area businesses also provided donations and contributions. 

There were numerous sponsors for the event, including Clint Young, who is Batman’s alter ego in Montana. He attended Sacred Heart School and donated half of the cost of photos with Batman and the batmobile to the Academy.

Anyone interested in touring the building, shopping at the Country Thrift Store on the lower level, donating to the projects, or joining the Convent Keepers for $10 annual dues, are welcome to stop by the Academy during weekday business hours at 1411 Leighton Blvd.

Moore also said the Convent Keepers have recently received donations for the Nibs and Edna Allen Foundation to replace an aged sewer line and are “actively seeking” grants to install chair lifts for access to the basement and first floor.

The next event scheduled is the annual Christmas Tea, when the building will be decorated for the season.  There will be refreshments and entertainment provided, as well as tours.

And, in April, it will be Princess Day again.

 Space in the building is available for long-term rent as offices or crafting spaces, or short-term for parties such as bridal showers. The chapel is also available for small wedding and services.