By Daniella Rodriguez
At the 100th Anniversary Mass for St. Saviouor’s H.S., Sept. 23, it was hard to find a seat in St. Saviour’s Church, Park Slope. Hundreds of Pandas commemorated their alma mater at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who ushered in a new chapter in the school’s role of educating young women – spiritually, intellectually, and socially – to make positive changes in the world. While many Catholic schools are closing, strong values have kept St. Saviour – the last parish high school in the diocese – thriving, even though some aspects of the school have changed over the decades.
Keeping with its School Sisters of Notre Dame roots, St. Saviour has created many beloved traditions over the course of a century. From day one, freshmen are matched with sophomore, junior, and senior sisters to guide them through all the activities that take place during the year. Many students have fond memories of meeting their best friends during Freshman Retreat in the first month of school, but seniors will tell you that Senior Retreat was the most exciting of all.
During Song Contest season, each grade participates in friendly competition, armed with creative, original lyrics to the melody of popular songs and suited in festive garb and props. More festive competition comes during Spirit Week, which always ends with the school sleepover in the gym, with themes ranging from Mardi Gras to Under the Sea.
St. Saviour’s qualities of diversity and unity come together for Cultural Harmony, the day before Thanksgiving, when students prepare ethnic food and perform traditional dances. Even Panda Parents get involved during the Father-Daughter Holly Hop and Mother-Daughter Luncheon. These traditions keep Saint Saviour alive in its alumnae, whom we celebrate during our centennial anniversary for carrying out that Panda Pride in their daily lives.
While many aspects of a Saviour education are rooted in old traditions, the centennial celebration has been an opportunity for Saviourites to become more involved an ever changing world. Throughout the centennial celebration, exciting technological advancements have taken the school by storm. Students began exploring the world of 3D printing in 2016, giving them the ability to bring virtual images to life. AP Computer Science has been added as a class, one of 12 Advanced Placement classes that the school offers. This year, as part of the Chromebook 1:World program, each student has been provided with a brand new Chromebook laptop to use both in and out of the classroom. Because of these new tech upgrades, students are even better equipped to be leaders inside the classroom and positive influences in the world.
Because of St. Saviour’s conviction that education does not take place only in the classroom, students are not only well-rounded, but also well-traveled. Every year during Spring Break, students and teachers travel with EF Tours to European countries to immerse themselves in cultural experiences. To celebrate the 100th anniversary, 30 Saviourites, including myself, found themselves in Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun. We wore traditional kimonos, visited Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, and ate many bowls of sumo wrestler stew. This spring, students will embark on a trip to Spain; in 2019, they will travel to Ireland, and who knows where the ensuing years may take them.
Over the course of four years, students learn what it means to be a Saviourite: sisterhood, diversity, tradition, and innovation. Most of all, it means having Panda Pride, a sense of lasting sisterhood and solidarity, which can be seen in classrooms, on the fields and courts, and throughout the halls; heard in the alma mater, the birthday song, and old Song Contest tunes; exuded when students walk proudly in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and down the church aisle at graduation; and, of course, taken with alumnae when they go off to college, join the workforce, meet new people, and return for a reunion, knowing that they have been and will always be a part of something greater than themselves.
The centennial celebration has meant something different to each of us, but the one thing we all believe is that, here at St. Saviour, we bleed maroon and white.
Daniella Rodriguez is a senior at St. Saviour H.S., Park Slope.