Mercy is in the Babbs’ Genes
(pictured left to right are Meg Latka Peters’04, her mom, Carol Babb Latka’76, her mother Ellen Babb holding Meg’s daughter Caroline and Gail Babb Kotulak ’82)
For the Babb family the connection to Mercy High School is truly in the “genes.” Matriarch Ellen and her husband Bill sent six daughters to our school. And that legacy continued when those daughters sent their daughters to Mercy. The family’s involvement spans decades beginning in 1971 and continues today.
Making the decision to send her daughters to Mercy was an easy choice for Ellen, a teacher from the small town of Howells, Neb.
“ As an educator I wanted an environment that I felt comfortable walking into–with a small, nurturing, learning community. Mercy had these qualities,” she said.
Education also meant the development of the whole person—mind, body and spirit. All of the daughters participated in sports, and two of the girls received the Sister Edith Award which is given to a senior in recognition of her qualities of integrity, sportsmanship, spirit and sensitivity to the game while encouraging teamwork and camaraderie.
“ At Mercy you had the opportunity to participate in a variety of extra-curricular activities which would not be the case in larger schools. This involvement allowed another avenue of interaction among classmates, including meeting some girls that you may not have gotten to know otherwise,” said Carol Babb Latka ’76.
Susan Babb Hawkins’75, the eldest daughter, studied journalism, helped with theatre, and now works at First Data. Next came sister, Carol Babb Latka ’76. Carol played volleyball and basketball, ran track , and was a class officer. She went on to University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) and taught in the Millard Public School System for 32 years.
Joan Babb Hug ’77 was involved in Student Council and the Mercy musicals (usually as a dancer). She was also active in volleyball, basketball, and track, earning an athletic scholarship to University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) where she played volleyball. Joan is currently a physical education teacher.
Each sister brought her unique talents to the school. Mary Babb Horne ’79 was involved in track and was also a cheerleader. She sent two of her daughters, Talia Horne ’14 and Audra Horn ‘13, to Mercy. Next came Donna Babb McColley ’80 who also ran track and played volleyball. Both Mary and Donna are now self-employed.
“ We really didn’t give the girls a choice about attending Mercy, but there were never any complaints. The younger girls were well aware of Mercy and all that it encompassed long before they actually attended. Another benefit to sending the girls to Mercy was the fact that they wore uniforms; there were never any arguments about what to wear,” said Ellen with a smile.
Her youngest daughter, Gail Babb Kotulak ’82, participated in many extra-curricular activities at Mercy including track, volleyball and theatre.
“ I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Mercy influence. I had the chance to participate in many things even though I wasn’t the most talented. That opportunity helped develop my approach to teamwork but also taught me humility…as there were times I made the team, but sat on the bench, ” Gail said.
She went on to get a degree from UNO and has been working at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) for 25 years currently as part of the Institutional Review Board.
She has served on the Alumnae Council for nine years and is a Mercy parent, sending daughter Jennifer Kotulak ’09 to the school who now teaches second grade in the Westside district. Her husband Jay has also been the Junior Varsity soccer coach for 17 years.
Starting her first term on the Alumnae Council is Carol ‘s daughter Meg Latka Peters ’04, a graduate of UNL and nurse at Nebraska Medicine. Meg recalls that her mother encouraged her to shadow at other schools but she knew Mercy was the place she wanted to be. She recently talked to the seniors at their off site retreat about her Mercy years.
“ Mercy provided me with a wonderful high school experience. I was grateful for the chance to participate in so many extra-curricular activities. Participating in the same traditions as my mom and aunts provides us with a special bond. I also appreciated the emphasis put on academics. The Mercy faculty created an excitement for learning because they were so passionate about the subjects they taught. When I graduated I was so well-prepared for college…and life! Some of my college classes actually felt like I was taking a step back,” Meg added.
The family stays very active with the school, are consistent donors and can be seen at their regular table each year at FIESTA.
During this interview, everyone spoke about the spirit and fun that were part of their Mercy school years, as well as the lifelong friendships they had formed. But they were also quick to point out that much of their success in life could be attributed to the academic and value foundations they received from their parents and how these were so consistently reinforced and extended at Mercy.