By Jaden Daher ‘19
Tradition. Is it important? Is it worth looking back to our past? The simple answer is yes.
Regis Jesuit High School is a college prep school, preparing students for their futures. But the RJ traditions are what truly prepare students for living a life of love, something that is beyond the intellectual component. One of these traditions is a senior leadership club in the Girls Division, Esprit De Corps.
Esprit De Corps is defined as “a feeling of pride, loyalty, and membership to a particular group,” but to Mrs. Jodie Prohira, the founder of the club, “there is so much more to it.” Prohira says she was prompted to start this club after having a conversation with two seniors back in 2005 that focused on the lack of senior events and the misguided underclassmen. “We wanted a way to get the seniors closer together while also making sure we take care of the little ones,” Prohira says.
So Mrs. Prohira created a space where the seniors could check in on the underclassman and welcome them to the RJ family. In the earlier years, the seniors solely met with the freshman, and then it evolved to the senior/sophomore meetings as the sophomores needed their big sisters a little more during that difficult year.
“They could foster the sisterhood and the cura personalis that Regis stands on. That’s what you do. You take care of people. They took it very seriously,” adds Mrs. Prohira.
And that’s exactly what Mrs. Prohira does for this club, she takes care of everyone. Senior Kenzie Devening, a member of Esprit de Corps, reflects on her time in this club, remembering, “The meetings had such a fun, supportive, and positive environment. I could really tell how much Mrs. P loves all of us.”
Despite the early morning wake up call for Wednesday morning meetings, Mrs. Prohira greeted all of her seniors with the warmest smile that made everyone forget their annoyance for getting up early on late start days. The meetings involved discussing what is happening around the school, how the seniors could help, and planning events to bring the senior class together before the end of the year.
Events such as senior lock-ins, Christmas cookie surprises, senior sunrises, Power of the Dream variety shows, barbecues and more, all took place over this past year. And events like these have been a tradition for many years.
Elise Goodwin ‘15, the co-president of Esprit de Corp her senior year, recalls that “any club or organization at Regis helps create the overall feeling of community…however, Esprit de Corps was special because it focused on solidifying the sisterhood before going to college and incorporating fun activities for seniors in their last year at Regis.” It was these activities that “meant a lot to [her] as a senior,” Goodwin says. But they also still mean a lot to her as she gets ready to graduate college this weekend. “It is because of the opportunities that Esprit De Corps gave me as a senior that after having graduated four years ago,” Goodwin says, “I still feel like I could reach out to any girl from my graduating class, even though we are all in such different places.”
In this sense, Esprit de Corps creates a long-lasting legacy of love. And that is exactly what Mrs. Prohira hoped for in creating this club. She says she watches each class walk in as freshman, and “they walk in as babies, as little girls, slightly damaged because of the middle school thing” she says as she gives a little laugh. She continues, “my goal has been to find a way through example, conversation, activities, etc. to bring the class together in as many ways as I can in the course of a year.” And this has been a great success.
She says she has seen the most fractured classes come through RJ, but by the time they are seniors, “they are stellar in every facet,” she says confidently. “The end of the year, hugging, and loving on each other,” she says, “you know you did it right, and I have seen that every year.”
It’s these traditions of cultivating love and community that drives humanity forward. Author Katharine Rose writes in “Why Traditions Matter,” tradition can actually “propel us forward as human beings in life wisdom, understanding and even emotional intellect.”
This is especially true for Catholic institutions such as Regis Jesuit. James F. Keenan, a Jesuit, writes that the Catholic tradition of moral wisdom “is a lively, life-giving one…always progressive, developing, and constantly calling us to receive it, enrich it, and humanize it.”
For the past 14 years, Mrs. Prohira has done just that. Through this tradition, she has called us to receive our leadership skills, enrich our worth, and humanize our hearts. She has created a legacy of love that will continue to grow from the roots of Esprit de Corps for many years to come.