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#ND Mansion Memories

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Caroline Swift Stansbury ’97- What I remember most about The Mansion is that it has ALWAYS been a part of my memories. When we moved here in '81, I was 2 years old and my oldest sister Heather started 6th grade at ND. Being the third child, I was like a little traveling gnome - I was anywhere and everywhere that my mom needed to go, and since Heather was such an athlete, we were always on the fields. 

I have such fond memories of running around and hiding under the weeping willow that stands in front of The Mansion. To me, it's what a school looks like - majestic and strong, and emanating the memories of the many girls that walked its halls. The Mansion is our history. 

Joan Mandeville Willis ’88- The Mansion was always warm and welcoming. It was almost an escape from the more typical classrooms. I always found a sense of comfort in seeing the Sisters and smelling what was cooking for dinner; it truly was our home away from home.

Jenna Taylor ’12 – After our AP Spanish exam was over, Señora Lopez promised to teach us how to salsa dance. So sure enough, one day in May, Señora brought a boom box to class in the Mansion! She picked me to be her partner for demonstrations. It was hilarious because she is a tiny, 5 foot tall woman, and I am 5ft 10in, and she was twirling me around the room like a pro. We had so much fun that day!

Susan Carney Fahey ’77- We had French class with Sister Augustefer in the the classroom right at the top of The Mansion staircase. While French was OK, any excuse to get out of class early was a good one. There was a clock on the wall that was reachable by standing on a chair.  One day, we coaxed my dear and lifelong friend Eva into standing on the chair (as she was among the tallest in the class), and moving the clock ahead by 10 minutes so we could get out of class early. We posted a sentry at the top of the steps, who fortunately was able to give us the signal that Sister was coming in time for Eva to get down and return to her seat. We all tried as hard as we could not to laugh all class long. At the "end" of class, we pointed to the wall clock and began to get ready to go.  Sister skeptically looked at her watch, then the clock, then her watch again...and with a circumspect scowl, let us go.  Feeling quite proud, we tried this little antic the following week.  Eva, again, was our designated clock person. Unfortunately, our sentry was not as adept this time, and poor Eva was caught red handed as Sister walked  in on her trying to change the clock. I truthfully cannot remember what happened next, so will chalk that up to a "senior moment", but at least we all lived to tell the story!

One of my classmates was the talk of the town with her new car Junior year....a Volkswagen Thing. For those who remember, the doors, windows, and windshield all came off - leaving only the shell with 4 seats and 4 wheels. One lunch period, a group of us snuck out to the parking lot while others distracted the owner, and took everything we could off the car, hiding the parts in nearby bushes or behind what is now the Dance Building. When my classmate went to her car at 3:00 p.m. that day, she stood in awe at her "shell" and just started laughing.  After a while, we gave in and helped her reassemble "The Thing" so she could go home. While it was the first time this happened to her, it probably wasn't the last.

Kathy Shay ’70- There are many memories of The Mansion so it is hard to pick just one to share.

I remember the assemblies held for the entire upper school in the Great Hall and sitting on the stairs, as well as looking over the balcony; we were freshmen and got the cheap seats. Also, I remember the microwave hamburgers wrapped in cellophane and similar lunch selections in vending machines located in the “cafeteria” next to the dining room.

I remember Mrs. Suppa making us each sing the Star Spangled Banner the very first day of class so she could assign us to a voice category. I remember the nun who used to make us “sway like the trees” – verbally and physically – in speech class in the Solarium.

I remember learning French as a freshman by the Chilton (“sheelton”) Method with Mrs. Hennigen. That is the French I remember the best.      

Kathy McCloskey Neff  ’86-  Sasha sleeping at the foot of the stairs waiting for Sr. Regina and hiding in The Mansion by the bathroom while we were supposed to be running for field hockey and/or lacrosse.

Aimee Kiley Weise ’86- I loved walking into the back doors in the butlers’ pantry and through the dining room and feeling like I was in a “home” where it was warm and welcoming!  Also, every time I saw Sr. Mary Augusta in The Mansion, she would charge me 25 cents for chewing gum!  I also loved the Chapel.

Patrice Hayden Meagher ’97- In high school my Dad had a transplant and was really sick for a long time.  I remember being very upset and talking to Mrs. Sajeski about it.  I told her I was tired of praying for him to get better so she told me to stop and she would take over.  She said she would pray for me so I could take a break, and then she would spend time everyday in the Chapel praying for him.

Chrissy Cancelmo ’86- My favorite memory was “stealing” cookies from the Sisters from the cookie jar!

Lauren Willis ’08- Since I went to Villanova, I didn't travel far from my second home, The Mansion.  My favorite memory of The Mansion actually occurred after graduation.  I was driving by Notre Dame's campus with some of my new college friends from Villanova and said, “That's where I went to high school." They remarked in amazement, “You went to school in a Mansion?” I just smiled and said, “Yes.”

Megan Battle Nolen ’99- My favorite memory of The Mansion has to be when my mom was the Chair of the Annual Art Show. Staying there late at night, smelling the dinner cooking and hanging with Sasha and all of the Sisters! The Mansion was the reason ND felt like home to me! 

Kelly Croce Sorg ’97- I went to public school through 8th grade -- so I'll never forget -- it was before Christmas. The Mansion was completely decorated.  When I walked in and saw it decorated for the first time, it took my breath away! I was so happy to be somewhere that I could celebrate Christmas all day long and during school!  It was an amazing feeling. Also, I remember having to go to confession in the little vestibule by the Chapel. It had been 7 years since my last confession and the priest almost fell off his chair.

Alexis Barton Morsell ’99- One day my mom was late picking me up from field hockey, so I had to wait for her in The Mansion. The Sisters were cooking dinner and it smelled so good. It smelled like home. They invited me into the kitchen to wait for my mom and I remember feeling so loved and cared for.

Kelly Coia Jones '97- I remember taking a nap during Spanish class in the bathroom at the bottom of the steps!

Jan Toscani Petersen ’70- We used to hide in the big bathrooms with the gold faucets before the nuns started our classes in the 2nd floor bedrooms. We had classes on the third floor. That was where the convent was located. The convent was their sacred space, so we never ventured into it. The ENTIRE school used the bathroom on the first floor by the side door. I remember singing our lungs and hearts out in the Solarium with Mrs. Suppa. The entire high school had lunch in the formal Dining Room of The Mansion. Mrs. Knapp, a lovely older woman, cooked for us in the back of the kitchen. We attended assemblies in the Great Hall and let our legs hang down over the balcony. I could have sworn a few of our loafers fell on the people below us! Our Spring dance was held in the Great Hall. I can remember all of our friends dancing like crazy with our dates. My dates were always blind dates! I remember our bus driving through those big gates every morning. The Mansion always made me happy; never a sense of dread.  It was HOME.

Emma Willis '13- One time, during my Senior year, Dr. Califf took my classmates and me on a tour of The Mansion. He took us to the archive room and let us look at all of the old pictures, newsletters, and class rosters from the past. It was truly amazing to see how different things were at ND years ago, and yet, there was still one common thing we all shared - our love for The Mansion, the heart that keeps the school alive.

Joan Sammartino Turner ’77 (Faculty/Staff)- Some of my fondest memories of The Mansion include: Music class with Mrs. Suppa; receiving our Sophomore pins in the Chapel and our rings in the Great Hall; Baccalaureate Mass and the Reception on the patio. My Favorite Memory is when I was able to give my daughter Jessica ’06 her alumna pin in the Chapel.

Mary Anne Opila (Faculty/Staff)- Having the Faculty dinner in the Great Hall and Carl and Vera Suppa leading us in Christmas Carols. The entire faculty would be able to sit in tables and chairs arranged in the Great Hall (ND was smaller in size at the time.) There was an intimacy about the space and sharing the time with ND friends.

After being at ND for a very long time, I finally had the opportunity to see the basement of the Mansion! David Califf took a few teachers on an after-school tour and he gave us some interesting insights.  After all of those years, I finally got to see the basement! 

Diane Sander (Faculty/Staff)- I remember Carl Suppa playing the piano and leading us in Christmas carols at the Annual Faculty Christmas party in the Great Hall. Back then, we would have a Christmas tree that rose to the first floor balcony in the Great Hall.

Jen Harvey ’04- I will always remember the circle of candles after the Ring Mass. Also, I remember leaving Spanish class to wait in line on the steps for the ONE ladies room!

Kelly Hanna ’04- My favorite memory of The Mansion is walking to Spanish class through the kitchen where Millie would run around and bark as the Sisters had their coffee.

Elizabeth Ryan ’04 and Claire Ryan ’07- We both remember waiting on the Mansion lawn after sports practices for our mom and Millie and Sister Regina would be out there waiting with us. 

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