Tradition Never Graduates


Class of 1950, creators of the grotto gather for their reunion

Growing up, I didn’t know very much about what I wanted to be when I got older. One thing I did know was that I wanted to be a Panther. It was instilled in me at a very young age from my father to come to Elder. Something that I think most guys who attend Elder could say as well. Elder High School has a never ending tradition that lives on after graduation day. A saying that Elder has adopted over the past few years is “Tradition Never Graduates”, this perfectly explains the positive, lifelong effects Elder has on you.There are numerous reasons why I believe Elder has maintained such a high reputation over all these years. When I wear Elder outside of the school, I understand that I am representing an entire community, something larger than myself.  When I’m wearing Elder across my chest I act in a way that I would want others to see Elder; holding the door for people, being polite, using appropriate language etc. This is something that all Elder guys are taught, so I think it displays a positive message to people outside of the Elder community.  And people inside the Elder community just expect it.

Elder’s overall success in athletics also plays a key role in the tradition of Elder. Some high schools find it hard to get alumni back to the school for sporting events due to the lack of success on the field. Elder doesn’t always go undefeated, but we always put up a good fight. This is why you’ll find numerous alums who don’t even have any relatives at Elder any more, still supporting the school they love. It also isn’t very hard to watch a football game in the beautiful PIT, which is the number six place in America to watch a High School football game.

A majority of the faculty and staff here at Elder are alumni. They graduated from Elder, went to college and came running right back to the place they love. A hand full of staff members even went on to get very high paying jobs and found that they would rather teach at Elder than make more money. This is when I truly understood how deep the passion for Elder goes, when alumni are willing to take a pay cut just to be back at “their” high school.

Elder also provides numerous ways to get former students back together with annual reunions and memorials. This maintains the “Tradition Never Graduates” theme.  Once a Panther always a Panther.

“Our Alumni are very proud of Elder and what it did for them,” said Principal Tom Otten.(Class of ’64)

During the high school years are when you turn from a boy to a man. It is when you begin to find out who you are as a person. Elder helps you do this by providing many religious retreats and lifelong friends to help you along the way.

Some people have a hard time deciding whether the cost of tuition is worth sending their son to Elder. Personally I think the effects Elder has on a kid are priceless. Some moms of Elder students don’t truly understand what can be so special, but this is where the saying “it’s a purple thing, you wouldn’t understand” comes from. You cannot fully understand the Elder way until you experience it for yourself. Yes Elder High School prepares you for college but it’s larger than that. It’s the sense of being a part of something greater than yourself, a brotherhood, and a community, something truly surreal. Something that I will always be proud of.

I will make sacrifices in the future to make sure every one of my sons attend Elder, no matter the cost of tuition, it’s worth it. This is why Elder is the way it is; nothing will stop an Elder alum from sending their son to Elder. It’s every Elder alum’s dream to see their son succeed at Elder, whether it’s through academics, sports, or faith. Elder dads just want a chance to relive the best four years of their lives. The only way to do this is through their sons.

“It is just a very special place,” said principal Otten.

Elder does provide enormous amounts of financial aid, however, to help out those in need as much as possible. Our administration does an amazing job collecting money through split the pots, donations, the Elder Walk for Others, Elderama, and numerous other events. You can see the lives Elder has effected through the large sums of donations from alumni. No one is going to give a school a large amount of money unless he or she was positively affected by the school.  Elder alums make sure that families, who may not be able to afford tuition, get a break and are able to send their son through the best school in America.

For older alumni, college wasn’t an assumed path after high school. So, for most of them, during times of the great depression and such, Elder High School was the last educational part of their lives. Elder served as a college for some of these people and they are as proud to say they went to Elder as some people are of high ranking Universities.

“We have very strong Alumni supporting us,” said Dean of Dicipline, Mr. Ruffing. “It’s the sense of belonging to the school well after graduating.”

The class of 1950 came up with the idea of building a “grotto”, and have been maintaining it ever since. Elder held a reunion to celebrate the building of the grotto and to honor to great men behind this idea. The memorial was held at the grotto and concluded with lunch and a tour around the school to show them the renovations that have been done since their time here.

“The ties and bonds that I formed with the men of Elder with whom I graduated, is something that will forever remain,” Said Bob Habel, Class of 1950. He continued to tell me that one of his class mates (whose last name was close to his in the alphabet) and he were best men in each other’s weddings. They met from simply being close to each other in homeroom and lockers due to their last names, now the two are lifelong best friends; all because of Elder.

Everyone I asked about Elder whether it’s the principle, dean of discipline or a member of the class of ’50. Each person said to me, “It’s just a special place.”

Elder is more than just a school, it truly is amazing and a place to grow and mature into a man. I will be forever grateful to the Elder community and everything it has done for me.