The walk was cold and brisk. It only took about 15 minutes because I was living in the school’s backyard. In the distance I could see the white letters. “St. Ignatius College. 1869.”
Almost like a dream, the sound of four girls singing began in my head, just a distant memory. I heard the beginning of the school song: “Hail Ignatius all your friends here today! ” We would pack ourselves into a little car and make it a point to drive by 1076 when we were together and back from college for any type of break; Thanksgiving, Christmas, summer.
“Hail Ignatius with a hip-hip-hooray!”
The first day of our freshman orientation they took us, the new recruits, to the Gentile gymnasium for a make-shift pep rally. It was 1999. We stood there, not singing, not realizing what this college prep would do to any of us; how it would shape us. The upperclassmen clapped and sang the song, loud and hard. I looked at one particular senior who was in crutches and thought, would I ever feel that pride?They attempted to pump us up and their faces were red from singing and clapping. They were going to get it through to us. We were Ignatians, something to be proud of; very proud.
“Alma mater, devoted and true, there’s no other just like you!”
I sat across the long table in the conference room as a bearded man with a ponytail asked me, “What does A.M.D.G. mean?” I knew this. They had drilled it into us so much in the first few weeks of being at the historic educational institution, that I knew it in my sleep, with my eyes closed and my mouth shut. “It’s Latin for ‘To the Greater Glory of God.'” That was the answer that would award me a scholarship for at least a year, before the funders ran out of money. “If your daughter doesn’t get this scholarship, what will you do?” he asked my parents. “We’ll do whatever we can to get her through that school,” said my mother. “If we have to eat canned beans, she’s going to go to that school.”
“You have taught us how to fight for the right; truth and justice, too!”
The bonds that took place our first year carried throughout all four. Getting to school early just to sit in front of our lockers; being upset that they closed off the body of the school before 7:30 unless you were going to the library. Decorating lockers for birthdays and trying not to get caught by the birthday boy or girl. Sitting in the band room for lunch, eating, although we were supposed to be practicing. Going up the down staircase and going down the up staircase. Making fun of the freshman with the giant book bags. Going on service trips to places like Cairo, Ill., volunteering and tutoring. Learning about the history of the school, what St. Ignatius of Loyola stood for and what people living in the surrounding area of the school were going through. Complaining about four hours of homework a night that inevitably paid off in college and knowing that we had a choice of university once we graduated.
“For Ignatius, united we stand!”
After three years of playing “Pomp and Circumstance” for the graduating classes while sitting in the first row in band, I didn’t have to play it again. It was my turn to walk. We were all excited, dressed in maroon with gold tassels. It was our time to shine. We walked across the stages, smiled at each other, talked among ourselves while Dr. Watts addressed us all. When we had received the diplomas, we all looked at each other saying, “This is what I’ve worked so hard for. This is it.”
“And united we’ll win for you!”
Who can forget Mr. Raispis saying, “One more time!”
“Hail, Ignatius, all your friends here today!
Hail, Ignatius with a hip hip hooray!
Alma Mater, devoted and true,
There’s no other just like you.
You have taught us how to fight for the right,
Truth and justice, too!
For Ignatius, united we stand
And united we’ll win for you!”