Friday, December 11, 2015

What Child Is This...?

“What Child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?” And so we sing reverently during Christmastide to the rather haunting melody of Greensleeves.
While the melody dates back to the 16th century, and words, to the late 19th century, we still cherish the song in the 21st.  That’s a pretty good record.  The Christmas crèche dates back, we are told, to the time of St. Francis of Assisi in the 12th century.  So lots of the old to relish here.  At the academy we have many very old things (for us Americans, 19th century is very old) that we carried from 5th St., Covington, in 1963.  Among them and relating to Christmas is an image of the Infant Jesus.  This one, probably dating to the early 20th century, was the favorite of Sr. Mary Agnetis, the first principal of NDA as a high school (1906-1946).  Anyone knowing Sister and looking at the Infant can imagine Sister’s reaction to it—it so embodies the side of her shown frequently in her gracious responses to others.  Today the image seems saccharine sweet, but in its day it signified popular and sincere devotion.

As said above, many old things were carried from the “old” academy.  At least two sets of crèche figures are in storage during the year.  Currently, one is in the large display case in the entrance foyer, waiting for the Infant to be placed in the crib. 

And so we wait, as Advent bids, for the coming of Christ at Christmas, his birthday.  While we know that for us that should mean a readiness to meet Christ as he comes to us daily, perhaps in the guise of an infant, but in all kinds of guises, some not very appealing.  Advent then stretches our faith, just as the crèche images may.  Advent—a call to faith, a call to accept Christ in the many ways he comes to us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

When Did LIFE Begin on Planet NDA?

It all began in…

LIFE Club—Life Is For Everyone.  That certainly has the ring of truth to it.  So whose splendid idea was it to form a LIFE club here at Notre Dame?  If you were a student here in the early 1980s may recall the beginnings and your own membership in the club which was a chapter member of the Right to Life organization.  It was a speaker that Student Council (Sr. Mary Kevan moderator) sponsored, who spoke to the students about life and the dignity that should inspire all of us to labor for its preservation, especially for the unborn.   This talk inspired Sr. Many Sebastien to begin a LIFE Club.  The exact year: 1982.  (Just a little note about SMS: she is in her late 80s and still very clear in her recollections of her years here at NDA.  Sr. M. Sebatien is a resident of St. Joseph Heights Infirmary.) The yearbook for 1982-83 says this: “L.I.F.E.  members were involved in many activities (that first) year: a Walk-a-thon, a national convention, and picketing at an abortion clinic.  L.I.F.E. also took up collections for Birthright and for Kentucky flood victims. and passed out lifesavers and tiny feet to all N.D.A. students.”
LIFE Club was, and still is, a vibrant part at Notre Dame Academy.  One of the major activities now, as in the early years, is, of course, the annual trip to the nation’s capital to rally for life along with students and adults from all over the country in Life Week in January.  The club in this 21st century takes on other challenges appropriate to our times (there will always be such causes).  Mrs. Theresa Van Auken, the moderator of the club writes: “We sponsor the Fall and Spring Blood Drive, each month we do a collection for the Wounded Warrior Project (we rotate every month between the grade levels), St. Elizabeth Hospice Doves, Care Net baby bottle campaign, and once a year we do an "out of uniform day" [blogger’s note: the students pay to come out of uniform] and we donate the money between 3 organizations...Madonna House, Rose Garden Mission, and Care Net (these are the ones we did last year and I believe we are doing again this year).”
She also notes that the dues are $2 and everyone is considered an active member because all contribute to at least one effort in the course of the year.
So yes, we have lots of life and a healthy LIFE—good for life all around.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lost on the First Floor

Memory is as fleeting as gold, it seems.  Some time ago blogger sat down with a few 5th Street NDA folks and tried to recall the floor plan of each of the old building’s floor—yes, all five of them, not counting the basement.  Where, exactly, was the doorway into that classroom?  Was the stairway here or back here?  That room wasn’t that big, was it?  Wasn’t there a restroom off this hall?  And so the questions and certain answers (I do remember this regardless of evidence to the contrary) flew.

So we offer you a sort of synthesis on the layout of the first floor.  The heavy lines indicate the doors to the outside, while no effort was made to indicate where the windows were.  You can see those features in the second photo.  Also, no classroom or other room doors are indicated.  That memory rests in fuzzy land.

To help you locate yourself on the sidewalk, you are standing at the bottom of the picture.  If you are a student, you will enter the door closest to Senior A.  Don't forget to bow to the statue of Mary (circle with M in it).  If you would like to make a visit before homeroom, go down the hallway to the right of the Mary statue.  The door is slightly ajar.  Gym class (Mrs. Hessler presiding, in the '50s at least) will go outside today, taking the door leading to the courtyard.  (Never mind how your gym suit looks; the guys over at CCH--Mother of God School, can't see you from there.)

Now for the aerial photo of the school which you have no doubt seen before.

So there it is.  Blogger sincerely hopes that Senior Alums will inform her if their memories are sharper than hers.  Maybe you do recall if there was a small restroom under the middle stairs to the second floor.  And what was in the room with a ? in it?  Many things probably need rethinking here, so don't be shy.  Thanks in advance.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Yesterday's Sentence=Today's Blessing

In the May 28, 2013 blog entitled “Once Upon a Time…”  you can read from the Chronicles of Notre Dame Academy from its earliest years to 1902.  While the notes are quite interesting, there’s much they don’t reveal.  Here are some background facts that may spark your imagination.

Not all the Sisters who fled Germany in 1874 spoke English; probably most knew none at all.  Imagine coming into a foreign country under stressful circumstances and not knowing the language.  Then imagine being assigned to teach in a grade school.  Certainly American children were, even then, quite different from their German counterparts.  We can assume that most of the classes were taught in German—not uncommon in Northern Kentucky since so many of the residence in Kenton and Campbell Counties were first and second generation Germans.  Soon enough, though, the language barrier had to become a real deterrent to enlarging enrollments, and the Sisters’ efforts to learn English had to be stepped up considerably.  Some parish priests gave the Sisters in their parish schools lessons in English.  It is told that the people were very kind to the Sisters, understanding the difficulty of learning a new language as well as adjusting to their new home. 

While most of the Sisters were young, not all were, but their reason for leaving Germany was probably well known, making the locals even more sympathetic.  Bishop Toebbe, whose sister was a member of the German order, eagerly took advantage of the Sisters coming to the United States and invited them to teach in his schools in German neighborhoods.  When the first Sisters arrived in Covington, they were offered hospitality at St. Elizabeth Hospital, by the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis (as they were known then).  That did not last long since a house on Montgomery St. between 5th and 6th Streets became available.  This served as the convent for a few of the Sisters (many had dispersed to teach and to minister to orphans elsewhere in northern Kentucky and Cincinnati).

Regarding the Sisters’ reason for emigrating from German,  Chancellor Bismark’s Kultur Kampf (Culture War) was in progress and religious women were forced to leave their communities or leave the country.  His efforts were to solidify the power of Emperor Wilhelm I, negating, so he thought, any influence of the Catholic Church.  Under this duress many religious orders of women were forced to leave scores of their institutions in Germany.  But Germany’s loss was gain for several countries, especially the United States.  Eventually the SNDs were able to return to Germany, but very many stayed, having established roots in northern Kentucky, Toledo and Cleveland.  Thank you, Chancellor Bismark!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Blue Prints for Education

Notre Dame Academy could be compared, one supposes, to a very-quick-change artist if one thinks of cosmic changes.  But we don’t have to be that extreme to appreciate how the administrations have made efforts over the years to update the facility for the sake of the students and their education.

Following the pattern set in maintaining the facility on 5th Street, the building on Hilton Drive has taken on many changes in its 52 year history.  To illustrate this, blogger has posted two floor plans, the first from 1963 and the second from 2008.  1963 students would have a frustrating time getting to the right class at the right time in today’s building, just as today’s students would have in the ’63 building.  If you’re a grad from between ’63 and ’08, give it a try to find your senior first period classroom in the three minutes you have until your next class.  Grads of ’09 and forward, try the same in the ’63 building.  Remember, you are starting at your first period classroom and going to your second period AND you have but three minutes.  Ready, set, go!


Did you make it by the bell?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lay Out the Black Carpet

Remember the old tennis court at the east end of the school on Hilton Dr.?  Or maybe you remember back further, as blogger does, when there was a hill almost immediately beyond the driveway at that end.  At any rate, the tennis court was abandon with glee after the new court was laid to the west of the building  in 2008.  Since that time the old court has been left to the ravages of the weather while serving as a parking lot for faculty and baseball fans, and a practice area for the marching band of NDA/CCH.   But now, at last, it is being resurfaced as this missive is being typed. 

In above photo you see the truck pulling away from the spreader after it has delivered a load of asphalt, as well as the smaller of two rollers (truck in foreground, ???)  A nice feature of this photo is the view of the softball field as it is seen from a third mezzanine window.  You will note, no doubt, that this photo was taken through the window screen.  (Professional photo—no.  Blogger could have gone to the roof for these photos, but didn’t think of it until now.  There are no screens up there.) 

Here we see the larger roller too.  The men on foot are getting ready to cord- measure the width of the next row (blogger’s conjecture from what she saw shortly after this pic was taken.  Of course, blogger could be dead wrong, but that’s what it looked like.)

After the men have rolled all the newly laid asphalt, everybody just sits and waits for the next load.  Here’s a job with lots of break time if you don’t mind working with a very hot material and going through the same maneuver over and over again.  One suspects that it’s minimum wage for many on such a crew.  Considering the blessing a new parking surface they are providing, one wishes more for them.

So, in closing, if you have never watched a blacktop surface being laid, you now have a little glimpse of it.  There’s so much to learn in life.  God bless.