McNicholas High School’s traditions make both current and former students and teachers feel something special. With each year, there have been those traditions that have left the halls of McNick, but not the memories of the alumni. There are also those traditions that have continued to thrive and give each new generation of students a different experience than the first.
The athletic complex project in Paradise has been an ongoing project for years. However, the area Rockets know as Paradise has not always had that name. Previously, Paradise could be seen as an open field, the vision of a large stadium far off in the future.
The origin of the name “Paradise” came from athletes who ran the hill as a form of endurance and punishment. Athletes today can still attest to the woes of running the hill.
“The football coaches gave the boys this punishment of running if they did not have a good practice, or if some of the boys goofed off or did not put forth their best energy,” Sister Judi Keehnan, member of the Class of 1959 said.
When athletes finished running up and down the hill, they stated how it felt like “Paradise” standing on top of the hill, finished with that day’s punishment, hence the origin of the area’s name.
Girl’s Athletic Association (GAA)
When competitive women’s sports were not in existence yet among schools, the Girl’s Athletic Association (GAA) became active in events tailored to women of McNick every year. Until the Girl’s Greater Catholic League (GGCL) began in the year 1966, the GAA was an active organization. With the GGCL came interscholastic sports, which included volleyball, soccer, swimming, tennis, golf, cross country, and track and field for women.
As a way for women to become acclimated with their sport, the GAA hosted an event including games and an overnight in the original gym, which is now the McNicholas library and theatre. This was not only tailored towards the sports themselves, it also included fun activities for all of the women participating.
Keehnan, who also taught at McNicholas, helped chaperone this event because at the time she was the women’s volleyball coach. Part of the festivities of the night included a group of men, dressed as women, hoping to crash the night, but who would eventually be discovered and asked to leave
“The girls would roller skate in the convent basement halls,” Keehnan said. “The boys knew that they were not allowed, so they would dress up like girls and crash the activity.”
“Each of the four classes was assigned two colors and had to come up with costumes and a name using those colors. Each class elected a woman faculty sponsor, selected a volleyball team, and created skits,” said Class of 1962 Kathy Bollmer.
During Friday of Catholic Schools Week, McNicholas hosted their annual Penny Day and Blood Drive. Penny Day, introduced by Mr. Sam Roflow in 2000, is a day devoted to raising money for others and always occurs on the final day of Catholic Schools Week. It occurs at this time because the money raised finances Catholic Education, and Roflow stated that it seemed to be fitting to raise the money on this day. The money raised benefits Catholic Inner City Schools Association (CISE), the Education Project in Nicaragua, and various McNicholas Scholarships.
“This year, Penny Day yielded $5,800. Since its start, Penny Day has raised $95,900, by next year for sure it will be over $100,000” Roflow said.
The rule for all teachers is that until they count all of the money piled on their desk and roll the coins, they cannot start class.
“It’s a day devoted to others and it’s a better learning experience than sitting in a classroom,” senior Nicole Scott said.
Started by the Sisters of St. Joseph to honor their New Orleans heritage, the Mardi Gras tradition has been a part of the McNicholas community since 1953. In order to be chosen for the honor guards and court, young men and women must exemplify service and academics along with involvement in clubs and other extracurricular activities. Votes accumulate over four years from both faculty and students.
“It is the most unique tradition we have here at McNick,” said Mardi Gras Committee Member Mary Beth Sandmann.
The Maid of Honor and Captain of the Ball are seniors who are recognized for receiving the second highest number of votes over four years from the students and teachers. The senior young man and young woman who receive the highest number of votes are named King and Queen on the night of the Ball.
The theme this year is Bayou Ball. It has been chosen as this because Mardi Gras Chair Bill Losekamp stated that it is meant to bring back the roots of Mardi Gras and explain what is all about.
The Annual Mardi Gras Ball, in its 63rd year, will take place on Feb. 15, 2015.
Sadie Hawkins Dance
Sadie Hawkins was a well-known dance when it started around the country in 1938, however, the Class of 1961 started the tradition that became popular at McNick. The main difference between the Sadie Hawkins and other dances is that girls ask the guys to the dance. During this time, it was inappropriate for girls to be forward with boys and ask them to social events.
“This dance gave girls the opportunity to ask boys that they might like to go with them,” Keehnan said. “That versus today where the girls are much freer with the boys, and it is much more accepted when girls ask boys to go out.”
The Sadie Hawkins dance ended mainly because the dynamic between girls and guys is much different, and social events no longer center around school dances. Dances and mixers used to be the main form of entertainment rather than renting movies and going to sporting events.
Many girls now attend dances as a group, but during the era of Sadie Hawkins, guys did not go in big groups.
“If the guys were not asked, they didn’t go,” Losekamp said.