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The Book Signing: A Marianapolis Tradition

The Book Signing: A Marianapolis Tradition

Media Team - M. Jutras '22

If there’s one thing our students have learned over the years, it is that at Marianapolis, we value our traditions. One of the first of these traditions that students are exposed to is the Book Signing. Initially, only the graduates of each year would sign the book, but that was later changed to include all students. In a typical journey at Marianapolis, each student's name is formally called five times: once at each of the four book signings and the fifth and final time as they walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. Every year, students enter the chapel grade by grade and wait as each member of their class is called to sign the book. The first time that faculty and students signed their names in the big book was during the 2003-2004 school year. However, the former Head of School Marilyn Ebbitt came up with the idea during the 2001-2002 academic year; she planned to use the book for alumni reunions. According to Fr. Timothy Roth, "The book would provide the alumni the opportunity to remember and reminisce about their experiences at the school." To account for all those who attended Marianapolis before the tradition began, Andrea Miller took on the task of calligraphing the names of each head of school and student from 1931 to 2003 and finished the project on May 4, 2004. 

The book truly is a piece of history. Students whose names are featured in it lived through some of the most monumental historical events, as Junior class Dean William Benedict puts it, "ranging from World War II through September 11 and then COVID." As someone who has been reading names for the past six years, Mr. Benedict understands the significance of the book signing to the Marianapolis community and how a crucial part of it is the correct pronunciation of each student's name. Since we are such a diverse community with students from around the globe, many names are foreign to those who read the names, which is why it is of the utmost importance to these readers that they make sure to read all the names correctly. He says, "A student might hear my pronunciation before the event and say something like ‘it's good enough’ - I try to do better than just good enough." 

The tradition means a great deal to each individual that takes part in it. Fr. Timothy Roth, one of the original signers of the book, says that, "The book signing tradition reminds me of my dedication and commitment to ministry at Marianapolis," and that his favorite parts are watching the head faculty advisers for each class working meticulously to correctly pronounce each student’s name and the opening speech given by the Head of School, Joseph Hanrahan. This year during the signing, particularly observant students noticed that we were gradually getting closer to the end of the big book and wondered what the plans were for once it was full. Fr. Tim eased their worries by simply saying, "When the current book is full, another would be started." The book signing has been a successful, lasting tradition that will continue long after the first book is full. It will continue to create a monument for all students who have attended and will attend Marianapolis. The book signing is a tradition that makes its history, persevering through challenges like COVID-19, and is a physical embodiment of the closeness of our community, of students past and present. 

Photos from this year’s signing are available here.