By J1 Reporter Naomi Delkamiller
Mrs. Susie Sullivan, current Marian principal and 1980 Marian graduate, does not remember Walk-A-Thon when she was a Marian student. “I don’t remember if we even had one, to be perfectly honest. I looked in the yearbook and saw pictures, so evidently we did,” Sullivan said.
Like most Marian alumni, Sullivan remembers funny things that happened in classes, important advice from teachers, and of course, Field Day. However, becoming principal in 2015 has brought Sullivan back to the forefront of Marian culture.
On the master calendar of annual Marian traditions, Walk-A-Thon (WAT) is served first. Starting at the end of August and continuing through September, this student-led fundraiser kicks off each school year with the single goal of helping one another. “Walk-A-Thon is great because all of the money goes to students,” Sullivan said. “You’re raising money for each other- to help with tuition assistance.”
Sullivan’s responsibilities during Walk-A-Thon season have changed dramatically. Once a student raising money for her homeroom goal, she is now spending her time drafting weekly announcement to give over the intercom. “I look at myself as the [all school] aunt who can just say it how it is,” Sullivan said. She’s not wrong.
“Every Monday morning I get a new boyfriend, and every Friday afternoon I break up with him just because Susie Sullivan tells me to,” senior Addison Dunbar said, “but during Walk-A-Thon season I make sure to get a WAT donation Thursday night.”
In addition to her strong opinions about teenage boys, Sullivan has valuable input about the fundraiser itself. “We work hard, we play hard,” Sullivan said. She finds that taking a whole day off for WAT-related festivities is a necessity. “It’s a good time for everyone to get a break. I know academics are just starting to ramp up so it’s mainly a ‘hey, we made it through September so let’s take a deep breath.’”
Instead, the student body spent the morning of Sept. 27, 2019 holding its breath. The competitive atmosphere between the classes was undeniably present, seeing as Walk-A-Thon rank directly correlates with Field Day Color Block order in the spring. “I wish things weren’t so related to Field Day,” Sullivan said, “but it’s definitely a motivator.”
Hundreds of teenage nieces later and endless experience in the competitive Marian atmosphere, Sullivan introduced a brand new tactic at WAT kick off block: a pledge. Before the reveal of the 2019 Walk-A-Thon results, Sullivan led the school assembly in a promise of unity and spirit. “I think holding hands makes a big difference,” Sullivan said. Sullivan strives to keep the peace between class competition and is already planning her Field Day pledge for 2020.
2019 results came in this order:
In the end, current students may not remember Walk-A-Thon either, but at least they will remember the sweet sound of Aunt Sullivan’s most sacred advice, “Be safe, be smart, be Servite… and break up with your boyfriend.”