Gateway Weekend is upon us. Class banners are strewn from the ceiling, chrysanthemums decorate the foyer, and the NDP community is poised, with open arms, to welcome back reunioning alumnae!
This year, more than 400 NDP grads are expected to return to celebrate their milestone anniversaries. Classes ending in ‘0s and ‘5s will be specially honored, but any alum from any year can come back to gather with her NDP sisters.
In honor of Notre Dame Alumnae and Gateway Weekend, here are four things graduates regularly cite among their favorite memories of NDP:
- Class Colors—Since before 1911, choosing class colors has been the first defining act of class solidarity. Over the years, more staid combinations like “Grey & Green” and “Yellow & White” have given way to pairings such as “Wine & Rose” and “Kelly & Hot Pink,” often reflecting the fashion of the times. Last year’s freshmen selected “Pink & Yellow,” while the Class of 2019 chose “Plum & Turquoise” just last week. Whatever the class colors, all NDP alums proudly sport “True Blue & White!”
- The Teachers—Yes, any alumna can tell you within moments of meeting if their class won Gym Meet (or not!), but hands down, all alumnae have cherished recollections of teachers and dedicated School Sisters of Notre Dame. Marion Stringer, Mr. Goethals, and Mrs. Loyola; Sisters Joannene, Gilbert, Sulpice, Ellis, and Helen Marie. In recent years, we have bid adieu to the retiring Ellen Cullen (library), Pat Groeninger (phys ed), and Susanne Nichols (art). Some legends are still at it—Elaine Gottschalk, Barbara Barr, Lucy Strausbaugh, Sarah Myers, Maggie Ward, Mary Bartel—daily preparing today’s students to transform the world. Years from now, the “newbie” teachers of today will join this group of esteemed educators as they make memories in their classes and touch the lives of tomorrow’s alumnae.
- Traditions—Charles Street alumnae refer to the Pope’s Staircase, while Hampton girls talk about the Senior Lounge (wherever it may have been that year!). A blue dress that hasn’t changed all that much since the 1940s. Ring Day, Field Day, and Synchronized Swimming. Service Club, retreats, liturgies. White gowns, red roses, onyx and black rings. NDP is rife with tradition, and no one tradition is more often cited than…you guessed it…Gym Meet. Calisthenics and aerobic routines remind grads of their younger, fitter selves, and class themes and song lyrics are etched in memory for many. And of course the outcome is probably the most memorable of all. At a recent meeting, all alumnae volunteers in attendance won Gym Meet twice (kudos Classes of 1977, 1978, and 1986).
- Sisterhood—From the moment she stepped onto Notre Dame’s campus, each alumna entered a world where tens, if not hundreds, of sisters were gathered. Yes, some girls grow closer to some rather than others, but sisterhood is not something taken for granted at NDP. In classes, on teams, at retreat, through service work, in liturgy, the spirit of sisterhood is palpable and encouraged. As the oft-quoted line goes, “There is a spirit about this place,” a spirit that lives on in each alum, each class, and in the generations of women who have been enriched and nurtured because of a community and connections that have enabled them to transform the world.