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Graduation extravaganza

| Friday, May 18, 2018

The sign is pretty wrinkled, and it’s starting to tear a little in the top right corner. Otherwise, it’s held up remarkably well over the past four years.

It’s on the type of paper all elementary schools have in their art rooms, the kind that comes in big rolls. The lettering was done in red acrylic paint with blue and gold accents, the work of Emmy’s expert hand. Each word looks like a slightly different font, but all the fonts somehow manage to go together.

We have to pin up the top left corner of the sign extra times because that’s where we tape on the names of the occasions, one on top of the other.

It’s a convenient fill-in-the-blank that makes even the smallest celebration sound legit: [insert event here] Extravaganza Super Party Blowout Race for a Cure.

We’ve had “Secret Santa Extravaganza Super Party Blowout Race for a Cure.” We’ve had “Emily’s 22nd Birthday Fiesta Extravaganza Super Party Blowout Race for a Cure.” We’ve had “Dome Dance Extravaganza Super Party Blowout Race for a Cure.”

You could probably fill a small scrapbook with the photos we’ve taken standing under the sign.  The Wild Women of Walsh Hall, huddled close together as another partygoer (often a patient boyfriend) takes pictures with and without the flash.

This weekend, our final one before becoming alumnae of Notre Dame, the sign will bear the name of the day I’ve been anticipating and dreading all year. The day that seemed eons and eons away, and the day that arrived in the blink of an eye.

Graduation Extravaganza Super Party Blowout Race for a Cure.

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Who could forget Quintmas Extravaganza Super Party Blowout Race for a Cure? Meghan, Jaclyn and I spent all day decorating our third-floor quint with Christmas lights and streamers and paper snowflakes. We flipped Jaclyn’s twin bed on its side to clear space in our tiny, tiny side bedroom.  We played Christmas music and drank festive drinks and danced in our ugly holiday sweaters for hours until the party got shut down.

And then there was the Jaclyn’s Birthday Extravaganza Super Party Blowout Race for a Cure series — we’ve had a version of that sign three times. Jaclyn has the first birthday of the school year out of the Walsh girls, in early October.  Junior year, she thought we were all bad friends because we were acting so apathetic about her 21st birthday. We redeemed ourselves by throwing her a surprise gathering, complete with a delicious birthday cake baked by Kari’s mom.

At the original event — Wine Night Extravaganza Super Party Blowout Race for a Cure — the sign didn’t even exist yet. (It debuted at a BBQ a few weeks later). We scribbled the name on printer paper with highlighters and taped it to the closet door as we all hung out, squished together on the floor of a small Walsh Hall double. Somewhere, there’s a Polaroid of Erin, Meghan and I to commemorate the night.  We ate lots of microwave popcorn and gossiped — a regular occurrence throughout the rest of our college career.

This isn’t supposed to be a metaphor, a “my college experience was like one big party” type of thing. That’s not what I’m trying to say!

It’s really just me reflecting on a tradition, on memories, on friendships. It’s me trying to sort out in my mind what exactly Graduation Extravaganza Super Party Blowout Race for a Cure is celebrating — because it’s a long list.

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How do you celebrate the time you met your best friends and the time you spent hours studying the effects of foreign aid and the time you got lost in Berlin and the time you learned to do laundry all at once?

Because all of that happened at college — four years of learning and loving and failing and figuring it out.

I spent hours in the newsroom, telling the stories of this campus with a staff of fellow students. I fell in love with journalism and set up the start of my career in the industry.

I lived with an Italian host family for four months and often had no idea what was going on in our dinner table discussions. I still cried when I had to say goodbye.

I went to school with my brother and cousin. We see each other every Sunday night at Dawg Mass and lots of other times, too.

I played flag football games in the freezing cold and the pouring rain. I ate so many Sunday morning brunches in South Dining Hall, the only day they consistently offered those little cubed seasoned breakfast potatoes. I had picnics by the lakes, with Rocco’s pizza and friends I met on my first day in South Bend.

Graduation Extravaganza Super Party Blowout Race for a Cure is a celebration of all these things.

But it’s not an end. We are so young. There will be weddings and reunions and birthdays and who knows what else.

The sign still has years of use ahead of it.

Katie Galioto is graduating with a degree in political science and minors in business economics and journalism, ethics and democracy. She’ll be working as a reporting intern at the metro desks of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Chicago Tribune for the next six months. She welcomes visitors at both locations, just email her at [email protected].

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Katie Galioto

Katie, The Observer's former Managing Editor, is a senior majoring in political science, with minors in Business Economics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She's an ex-Walsh Hall resident who now lives off campus and hails from Chanhassen, Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter @katiegalioto.

Contact Katie