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Once upon a time, they were rivals

Msgr. Pace High now doing all it can to welcome students from Curley-Notre Dame

MIAMI | Decades ago, they were bitter rivals. This fall, they will merge.

Msgr. Edward Pace High School will welcome 93 Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame students, along with some of their teachers. Pace also will set aside a space to house yearbooks and artifacts from Curley-Notre Dame’s 63-year history.

“I would love to create like a time line that we put on the walls, to immortalize the history of the three schools,” said Ana García, Pace’s principal.

Msgr. Edward Pace High School sophomores welcomed their counterparts from Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame to their annual

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

Msgr. Edward Pace High School sophomores welcomed their counterparts from Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame to their annual "red letter" Mass this May, marking the sophomores' transition from under to upperclassmen.

Shield of Notre Dame Academy, the all-girls school which merged with Archbishop Curley in 1981. Both schools were founded in 1953 and were the first to be integrated in Florida, in 1960. Notre Dame alumni have successfully petitioned to have it moved from its current site at Curley-Notre Dame to its original site at what is now Notre Dame d'Haiti Mission in Miami.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Shield of Notre Dame Academy, the all-girls school which merged with Archbishop Curley in 1981. Both schools were founded in 1953 and were the first to be integrated in Florida, in 1960. Notre Dame alumni have successfully petitioned to have it moved from its current site at Curley-Notre Dame to its original site at what is now Notre Dame d'Haiti Mission in Miami.

Merging with Pace does not sit well with some of Curley-Notre Dame’s earlier graduates. The two schools competed in sports throughout the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, until their enrollment numbers put them in different divisions.

“We were banned from playing (each other) for a while,” remembered Brother Kevin Griffith, a member of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers who taught at ACND from 1986 to 1992. He is now the congregation’s province leader.

But that rivalry has faded. García and her staff have been reaching out to parents and students at Curley-Notre Dame since the merger was announced last fall.

Right away, they invited all the ACND students to spend a day at Pace. Then Pace counselors went to Curley-Notre Dame “and sat with every single student,” García said, to talk about courses and schedules. “They had a lot of questions and my counselors were able to answer the questions.”

When the spring football season started, Pace sent a bus to Curley-Notre Dame to pick up any students who were interested in playing, so they could scrimmage with the team. Around 17 came over, and 15 or so are now registered at Pace, García said.

At the end of May, when Pace traditionally holds a “red letter” Mass to mark the sophomores’ transition from underclassmen to upperclassmen, the student government leaders asked for permission to invite their Curley-Notre Dame counterparts.

“We welcomed them and spoke to them. It was a beautiful Mass,” said García.

Pace also will be adding Notre Dame d’Haiti Mission to its bus route, which already includes stops at St. James in North Miami and St. Mary Cathedral. Notre Dame is a less than a mile from ACND — in fact it’s the site of Notre Dame Academy for girls, which merged with Archbishop Curley in 1981.

Representatives of the archdiocese also are working on an inventory of items, aside from student transcripts and yearbooks, that will be preserved at Pace. The items chosen for preservation will certainly include the Curley and Notre Dame shields, currently buried on the grounds of ACND.

In response to a petition from a group of Notre Dame alumni, Archbishop Thomas Wenski has okayed a plan to place their school shield back in its original site, at Notre Dame d’Haiti.

“The intent is to memorialize the legacy and tradition of Curley-Notre Dame,” said David Prada, senior director of Building and Property for the archdiocese. “We’re still working out the details of how that will be done.”

García said Curley-Notre Dame’s legacy “has to be honored” but her main concern are the students. “We’ve done all we can to make them feel welcome and comfortable.”

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