Every March, on the week of St. Patrick’s Day, Notre Dame 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.