As Elizabeth Seton High School celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first graduating class in 1963, alumnae and current students are ecstatic that the bonds of sisterhood have endured through the years at the Bladensburg school.
But there are some things they’d like to change — specifically, the windows and air-conditioning units that have become outdated since they were installed half a century ago.
To replace its more than 150 windows and air conditioning, the school has kicked off a “50 for the 50th” fundraising campaign, in which each student and more than 10,000 alumnae are asked to donate at least $50, school president Sister Ellen Marie Hagar said.
The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, a nun institution, opened the Catholic school for young women in 1959, when most of the closest Catholic schools were in the District, Hagar said.
The Class of 1963 enrolled 138 students and had six faculty members, according to the school’s Web site. Today’s enrollment is 275 students, with a faculty of 87, including 20 graduates, Hagar said.
Monica Kircher Brady, 67, of Bowie recalled the excitement of growing up along with the school and visiting each new area as it was opened.
“It’s an ongoing process to keep the school alive and well,” said Brady, who still talks with Hagar about the school. “They’ve maintained it beautifully. I walk in and it’s as if time hasn’t passed.”
Students said the ventilation units are not effective and they find it hard to feel the air if they are not sitting beside a unit. They also said the windows allow too much cold air in during the winter.
The school must raise $250,000 so the Daughters of Charity will match the amount, for a total of $500,000, Hagar said.
“Many alumnae attribute their success in life to Seton,” she said. “I’m honored to be here. We’re determined to see Seton be here in another 50 years.”
Brady and other alumnae will join the Class of 2013 for its graduation May 28 and offer them roses to mark the passing of the torch, said Hagar, who is from the Class of 1974.
Current students were eager to see the students who paved their way, they said.
Maeton Jameson, a senior from Crofton and editor of the school newspaper, said the paper did a story last year on how the school has changed over the years, such as expanding its athletic and club offerings, adding a new learning program focused on engineering and design, installing sustainable plumbing and new lights, and renovating the bathrooms.
Although the building and academics might change, the sisterhood is still strong and continuously grows, she said.
“It sets an example for us about how we should be,” Maeton said. “I know I’d still like to be involved 20 and 30 years from now. If the whole school would be like that, we could really go places.”