At Notre Dame, you will be part of a school with plenty of history and traditions that you immediately will be immersed in. Check out some of the coolest parts of being a student here—including our traditions, customs and colors.
At the end of every all-school Mass and on many other occasions, students join in song for the Alma Mater, “Notre Dame, Our Mother.” Borrowing from the 1930 composition of University of Notre Dame band director Joseph Casasanta and president Rev. Charles O’Donnell, C.S.C., our version is modified to reflect our school in a more personal way.
Notre Dame, our Mother,
Tender, strong and true.
Proudly in the heavens,
Echoes our call to you.
Glory’s mantle cloaks thee,
Holy is thy name.
And our hearts forever
Praise thee, Notre Dame.
And our hearts forever
Love thee, Notre Dame.
Nickname and Fight Song
We are the Fighting Irish. Taking inspiration from the University of Notre Dame, we embrace the name as a symbol of our tenacity and spirit, well-known characteristics of the Irish people.
Our fight song is the Notre Dame Prep Victory March, written by UND graduates and brothers Michael and John Shea, whose original lyrics we have slightly tweaked to reflect our co-ed student body.
Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame,
Wake up the echoes cheering her name,
Send a volley cheer on high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky.
What though the odds be great or small
Old Notre Dame will win over all,
While her loyal sons and daughters
March on to victory.
Before the start of each home football game, the team runs onto the field to the song “Here Come the Irish,” written by UND graduate John Scully and performed by Cathy Richardson. NDP has been granted special permission to play this song at school functions.
Each fall, the Notre Dame Prep community participates in homecoming. Kicking off the event-filled weekend is an all-school pep rally on Friday hyping the football team and introducing the homecoming court, comprised of a boy and girl from the freshmen, sophomore and junior classes, and three boy-girl couples from the senior class. Later that night—after welcoming back our alumni for tailgating and reuniting—the football team takes the field, and at halftime the king and queen are crowned. A homecoming dance for NDP students is held on campus on Saturday night.
Every March, on the week of St. Patrick’s Day, Notre Dame Prep students from Pre-K to 12th grade engage in a four-day battle for victory and bragging rights. Each school creates a theme for the week, and carries that theme through hallway and door decorations, banners, and T-shirts. At the lower school, students of every grade are grouped together to build equitable teams. At the middle school, students compete with their houses. At NDP, it’s class warfare.
Teams earn points by following each day’s special dress code, finding scavenger hunt items, and answering trivia questions. But the hardest-fought points are earned during the Irish Week Games.
At NDP, featured games are basketball, football and volleyball, not to mention tug-of-war, arm wrestling and Euchre. Some of the more unique games are Clothespin Ninja, Hang Time, Quidditch and Cageball. NDP students also compete in e-sports and have an acapella sing-off. Middle and lower school students compete in games ranging from dodge ball to relay race.
At the end of the week, each school crowns a winner, and the most dynamic student at each level receives the coveted “Spirit of the Irish” award.
The origins of Irish Week date to 1976, when Conrad Vachon, a revered teacher and the first lay principal at Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods, founded the event to whip up enthusiasm toward the end of winter, to build unity among the classes, and to foster relations between the students and staff. Years later, Vachon’s invention continues to leave an indelible mark on all Notre Dame students.
St. Peter Chanel Day
As a way of demonstrating our call to be Christian people and upright citizens, each year our entire school participates in St. Peter Chanel Day. This special school-day event starts with a Mass for the whole student body, then continues with myriad service projects both on and off campus. The aim is for students, faculty and staff to work together in doing or making something meaningful for people in the metro Detroit area and beyond.
Over the years, students have made baby blankets for newborns at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, made care packages for U.S. troops serving overseas, written letters to veterans, visited nursing homes, cleaned local parks, and assisted at food banks and shelters.
Notre Dame Prep’s founder, Fr. Leon Olszamowski, s.m., brought the whistle cheer to NDP from his days as a student at Notre Dame Harper Woods. A member of the Class of 1965, Fr. Leon learned the whistle cheer as a freshman from Fr. Gerard Demers, s.m. These days, Fr. Leon or another trusted member of the school community, leads the whistle cheer at the homecoming pep rally. It starts with the quieting of the student body, followed by a steady whistle from the students. Abruptly the students are called to stop, then root on the leader as he or she rallies the crowd with three standing “Rah” cheers, two rolling “Rah” cheers, and then the chant “Notre Dame! Fight! Fight! Fight!”
The Shield Explained
The mark brings together three main components of the school’s history and roots: the “fleur-de-lis,” which translates to “flower of the lily,” traditionally means perfection, light and life, and oftentimes symbolizes purification upon conversion to Christianity.
It also was used on early versions of the flag of France, the Marist Fathers and Brother’s country of origin (Lyon).
The stylized “M” and “A” represent “Ave Maria,” or “Hail Mary,” a traditional Catholic prayer calling for the intercession of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and is the spiritual foundation of the Boston-based Marist Fathers and Brothers congregation, which founded the school in 1994.
The small Star of David over the “M”and “A” represents the Catholic faith’s Judeo Christian orientation, i.e., the parallels or commonalities shared between the two religions.
Green is the predominant color. It is representative of Notre Dame Prep’s local roots and provides a visual reference to the “Irishness” of its nickname.
The Notre Dame Prep academic seal incorporates several elements of the school mark. Behind the shield is a graphic suggestion of a Celtic cross, representing the Irish and Catholic heritage of Notre Dame. The school’s name, location and founding year ring around the shield.