By Li Stalder
I didn’t have your typical high school experience. I spent my four years at a Catholic all-girls high school in Tampa. Catholic schools aren’t out of the ordinary, but you don’t see too many single-sex schools very often. Some people stare at me with wide eyes when I mention it, and almost always ask, “Did you like it?” Well, I loved it.
Some reasons are more superficial, like not having to wear make up everyday and being able to wake up 10 minutes before you have to be out the door in the mornings. But the long-lasting traditions and people I got to know made going to Academy of the Holy Names such a special and meaningful experience.
The traditions at Academy keep you connected to classes from the past and the future. Junior Ring Ceremony is one of the many events that holds special significance. Each young woman receives her class ring at a ceremony in the spring of her junior year. The ring—simple, yet elegant—has the school’s crest engraved in a black onyx stone with the graduating year on the sides. Even five years after my class’ ring ceremony, I still keep mine placed on my right-hand ring finger.
Small class sizes meant specialized attention from faculty, who were already dedicated to their jobs. Some teachers and staff were even Academy alumnae themselves. It was the type of school where you’d build connections with your teachers after having several classes with them. For me personally, I took Latin as a foreign language, and I had the same teacher for all four years. The class was also very small (about 4-6 other students). Although the subject itself was difficult at times, I always looked forward to that class. Additionally, my English teacher, who was also the newspaper adviser, helped guide my way into journalism.
Lastly, the bond within our class was unique. During Spirit Week of our sophomore year, we were deemed “the murderers of school spirit.” Our class still hadn’t become that close. But I think things changed during our junior year, after we had our ring ceremony.
We kicked off our final year with the traditional senior sleepover—all 70 of us spent the night at one girl’s house. That was the first and only time (so far) that I’ve ever pulled an all-nighter.
As the year dwindled down, our school traditions came to a close. We checked off our last Christmas Formal, our last Jagball competition and our last Mini-Course Week. Finally it came down to our spring senior retreat, where we shared memories and felt the closest together. On our last day of high school, we went out with a bang for Senior Prank Day. We chose the theme, Grey’s Academy. We all dressed up in purple scrubs and turned the school into a hospital. Our class was murderers of school spirit, no more.