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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 12:45 am | Fair 49º


Notre Dame School Celebrates 40 Years with Pre-Merger Memories Dating Back to 1930s

On Nov. 2, 275 Notre Dame school families, alumni, friends, past and present teachers, and principals united in worship at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. They were there to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of Notre Dame School when Guadalupe and Dolores schools merged in 1974.

The Notre Dame family spirit was palpable as Father Raphael Marín-Leόn, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows, and Franciscan Father Kenan Osborne of Old Mission Santa Barbara — and a  Dolores School alumnus from the 1930s — concelebrated the Mass. During the homily Father Osborne reflected on the positive influence his elementary school education had on his life.

“School gave me a nurturing environment and strong foundation to build on,” Father Kenan said. “I was always encouraged to set the bar higher –— ‘You can do even better!’ the sisters told me — and I did. They truly fostered a curiosity and love of learning which I’ve carried with me my entire life.”

Following Mass, the crowd adjourned to Notre Dame School, where they enjoyed a brief program that included the beautiful song, “How Good You Are, God,” performed by current NDS students and a delicious lunch from Nite Bites, a company founded by former NDS student Carlos Lomelí.

After lunch, guests were encouraged to take the mike and share stories and remembrances. Among them alumni dating back to the 1930s, three previous principals — all of them sisters — as well as past and present staff. Each shared incredible stories — some humorous, some sorrowful, some inspirational.

Here is a brief sampling:

The Castro family are fourth-generation alumni, dating back to the 1920s. Jason’s grandfather attended Our Lady of Guadalupe School; his father, aunts and uncles attended Dolores School; and Jason and his siblings attended NDS, as did his three children. Jason even met his wife Lidia at NDS in Mrs. Hopper’s seventh-grade class when they were paired together — and the rest is history.

Jan and Joan Moisling are twins who attended OLG in 1958. They both shared their memories of Sister Ruth Marie who, they say, “was notorious for having good eyes and ears.” Joan recalled how a boy kissed her during lunch in third grade and Sister Ruth Marie made her write "I will not kiss another boy" over and over. She laughed and said, “Well, I didn’t live up to that one, but the boy I kissed became a deacon, so I can’t kiss him now anyway!”

Notre Dame
Fathers Raphael Marín-León, left, and Kenan Osborne during Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. (Tisha Ford photo)

Jan shared a story of the time Sister Ruth Marie asked her to say grace. Thinking the sister was out of earshot, Jan recited, "Good grits, good meat, good God, let’s eat!" The next thing she knew, Sister Ruth Marie was yanking her up by the ears, and Jan accidentally broke the sister’s rosary. “I had to pick them up one by one and say, ‘I’m sorry Sister Ruth Marie’ over and over for each bead.”

Sister Georgiana, a past principal, shared a poignant story about how the entire school created and signed a large poster, a photo of which was taken into space on the ill-fated Challenger mission. Sister Georgiana was visibly emotional as she recounted the memory of all the students watching the take-off on television as the vessel exploded, knowing the poster was onboard.

One of the common themes throughout the event was the “family feeling” of the school. Though the name and location of Notre Dame School have changed over the years, its mission has remained the same: to bring quality education to the Santa Barbara community.

From Students to Teachers: The Families of Notre Dame School

Alumni have long history of loyalty and commitment and often have multiple generations of family members attending the school, as is the case with Natasha Lomelí-Kauka, a current fifth-grade teacher who attended NDS and whose mother, Sonia Lomelí, attended Dolores School. Orlando León also attended NDS and is now assistant principal and also an eighth-grade teacher who has spent his entire teaching career at NDS. Yet another circle intact.

Notre Dame School: Today and Tomorrow

Father Kenan Osborne, an alumnus of Notre Dame from the years 1935 to 1943, expressed his enthusiasm for the future. “Although the school has gone through some hard years since the sisters left in 1990, Notre Dame is now back and the school is doing much better with the arrival of Sister Judy,” Father Osborne said.

Recently, Sister Judy Flahavan, a Sister of Notre Dame, was welcomed as principal. Coincidentally, Sister Judy was assigned to Dolores School (now NDS) to teach second grade over 50 years ago for her first teaching mission as a young nun.

The circle remains unbroken.

For more information about Notre Dame School Santa Barbara, please call 805.965.1033 or click here.

— Joni Kelly is a communications representative for Notre Dame School.

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