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Viewpoint

Fall is here, but I swear, summer is forever

Perhaps the start of fall isn’t marked by last Thursday’s Autumnal Equinox at 9:04 p.m. Eastern Time — maybe it’s the August 30 return of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte to Starbucks, or the day the box fans start to disappear from dorm room windows. Maybe it’s the first chill of fall you feel on an overcast day on campus or the slow, painful retirement of your flip-flops. However you define this shift, it’s happening, and everyone’s feeling it. 

Although I want nothing more than to embrace the turn of the new season, I find myself holding on for dear life to the summertime. On chilly late-night Grotto trips and sweatshirt-clad walks to DeBart, I’m thinking about legendary nights with hometown friends and summer romances. I’m thinking about saturated sunsets and mountain air and feet-dangling-out-of-car-windows. But whenever I feel this sense of loss, I remind myself that summer can be bottled. I’ve found my summer during this seasonal transition in a few songs.

The first song is “BIKE NO MORE” by brotherkenzie, which can best be described as a haunting, unfinished love letter. The dark piano melody coupled with the eerie vocals creates an otherworldly feeling. The lyrics are distant and vague like those lingering moments from summer: “Don’t you think I know you best / When you’re fast asleep on my chest? / I’ve still got so much to say.” Despite its lack of specificity lyrically, the song is made more vivid in its repetition and sonic mood. It feels like stomping through frozen flower beds, moody and satisfying. 

“Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap, an anthemic song popularized by 500 Days of Summer, opens with a glittery, tangy guitar riff that builds gradually to an epic pre-chorus. The pre-chorus is a series of snapshots that encapsulate youth and recklessness: “A moment, a love, a dream, aloud / A kiss, a cry, our rights, our wrongs.” The song invites listeners to plug in their own kisses, cries and mistakes — it’s a montage of our youth. It’s frantic and desperate, but also slow, mesmerizing and complex. 

The most gut-wrenching song is “Wish on an Eyelash” by Mallrat. The song is less than a minute long but creates a mood of longing that survives the track. Singer Grace Kathleen Elizabeth Shaw delivers crisp, angelic vocals detailing her pining: “I made a wish on an eyelash / Made a wish on elevens / Made a wish on my birthday / Talk about you to heaven.” The song is ethereal and somber, reminiscent of summers spent full of yearning, blowing on dandelions and hoping for things seemingly out of reach. 

“September” by Roy Blair is the most obvious transitional song for this time of year. It chronicles the end of a relationship, but with a glimmer of hope for the future. Blair contextualizes the narrative, singing, “I haven’t seen your face in about three months now.” He includes concrete images of a drunk walk home and his former lover’s Honda Accord, with commentary and reflection. He pleads, “Wish that we still talked / Even if the talk was small.” The song is as much in the now as it is in the past; it is one foot in and one foot out. But, above all, the song is about acceptance that all good things must end, whether that be a season or a relationship.

Surf Curse’s “Lost Honor” is an upbeat grunge rock song that is full of anticipation and excitement. Guitarist Jacob Rubeck told Flood Magazine, “This song is about fighting for love that feels right.” From New Year’s memories and hands on hips, frontman Nick Rattigan details and discerns precious moments, but asserts that “A final kiss never dies.” When I hear this song, I feel so sure that nothing ever dies. Nothing ever goes away.

The beauty of these songs is in their breadth, but mostly in their ability to capture this indescribable feeling that we call Summer. The songs are full of longing and anger and mourning and freedom. The songs sound like those invaluable fast food runs with hometown friends and Culver’s runs in South Bend with school friends. The songs sound like curling up in a ball in your childhood bedroom and sobbing salty tears at the Grotto. The songs transcend time and place. They are not summer songs — they are forever songs. Because surely our falls will be full of longing; surely our winters will be full of joy; surely our springs will be full of “rights” and “wrongs.” Because every season brings so much new and so much of the same. 

As we trade our t-shirts and shorts for sweatshirts and jeans, I hope we all call upon those moments of bliss from the summertime with the knowledge that bliss will return in time. Maybe we won’t find it in Hesburgh Library at 2 a.m. cramming for a midterm, but we will find it somewhere in Notre Dame, Indiana, perhaps when we least expect it. 

Kate Casper (aka, Casper, Underdog, or Jasmine) is from Northern Virginia, currently residing in Breen-Phillips Hall. She strives to be the best waste of your time. You can contact her at kcasper@nd.edu.

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News

Grant to help provide pre-college programming for underserved high school students

The Notre Dame office of pre-college programming has received a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc, a private charitable organization based in Indianapolis. The funding provided by this grant will go towards providing pre-college programming for teens from underserved high schools in Indiana. 

The Lilly Endowment has offered other grants in the tri-campus community, including one to promote mental health in Notre Dame residence halls called the ‘People With Hope to Bring Initiative.’

To be eligible for the grant, Paul Mueller explained that high schoolers must come from an underserved high school in Indiana.

Mueller, who is the director of the office of pre-college programming, said his department determines which schools are considered underserved using a variety of factors. 

 “We use professional judgment from our admissions counselors that visit these high schools to flag schools that they thought might fit an underserved criteria. In other cases, we use federal rules to determine whether a school was underserved or under-resourced,” he said.

The grant will be used to reach out to high school students who otherwise might not have been thinking about college, Mueller said.

“Our traditional ‘Summer Scholars’ student has already been thinking about college. So, this population that Lilly is funding is a little bit of an outreach population to get their college search activated,” he explained.

Because of the additional funding from the endowment, Mueller said the pre-college office has grown its ‘Summer Scholars’ program to accommodate more students.

 “We’re growing summer programs, probably by about 25 percent next year and another 25 percent the subsequent years as a result of this,” Mueller said.

The ‘Summer Scholars’ program brings students onto Notre Dame’s campus where they take a course taught by Notre Dame faculty. Last year, there were 450 students in one session of the program, however, Mueller said that by next year it is expanding to two sessions with the total number of students between 555 and 575.

One of the main changes brought on by the grant is that the program will now include a college fair as a way of connecting students to other Indiana schools, Mueller said.

“The biggest difference for the students will be that we’re adding a college fair, where we’re asking our other Indiana colleges to come up and talk about what they have to offer. It’s a recognition that especially from the Lilly-funded students, not all of them will be able to get into Notre Dame, so let’s give them the opportunity to explore what other options they might have in the state,” he said.

Muller explained that the goal is to help underserved high school students put themselves in college students’ shoes and begin to think about the possibility of attending college. 

“The biggest benefit is to get them onto campus and get them projecting themselves at a four-year college, thinking about ‘this is possible. I can do this,’” he said.

Notre Dame students can get involved with pre-college programming as resident counselors, Mueller said. The students are hired as staff in the dorms. 

“[The summer staff] provide leadership. They show students the ropes, they get them to the dining halls on time and into their classes on time. So, it’s a terrific summer employment opportunity for people that are really interested in working with high school students,” Mueller said.

Contact Colleen at cfarre23@nd.edu