Traditions

While her loyal sons and daughters march on to victory. Rah! Rah! Rah!

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.

Alma Mater
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 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.

Homecoming
Each fall, the Notre Dame 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.

Irish Week
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.

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.

Whistle Cheer
Notre Dame’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!” 

School Mark
Notre Dame’s mark brings together the four main components of the school’s history and roots. In the upper left corner is the fleur di lis, the “flower of the lily,” a symbol of the Blessed Mother. In the upper right corner, the interlocking NDP stands for Notre Dame Preparatory, the first of the Notre Dame Schools to be founded, in 1994. The stylized “A” and “M” in the lower left corner stand for “Ave Maria,” or “Hail Mary,” a traditional Catholic prayer calling for the intercession of Jesus’s mother. The oak leaf and acorn in the lower right corner symbolize Notre Dame’s location in Oakland County.

In the colors, blue represents Mary, gold comes from the school’s coat of arms, burgundy represents the blood of Christ, and green hearkens to our nickname, the Fighting Irish.

School Seal
The Notre Dame 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.

whistle cheer