Seniors Practice Self-Defense at Senior Seminar


Mattea Vecera, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

This past Friday, all 181 of the seniors piled into the alumni gym for the most anticipated senior seminar of them all: self defense.

Senior seminars are held during 8th hour on the early release days, and the purpose is to prepare seniors for college and beyond. College counselor Becky Bain arranges these special sessions.

In the beginning of the school year, seminars focus on the college application process, followed by a seminar on how to finance a college education,” said Bain. “Toward the end of the year, seminars shift to focusing on preparing students for college-and-career life.”

For the second year, Bain arranged for Master Penny Dugan, volunteers and professionals to come to Notre Dame Academy and teach the seniors self-defense skills. Military personnel also attended to serve as “bad guys & gals” so the seniors could practice their newly acquired skills.

As the Leadership Director of Kim’s Tae Kwon Doe, Dugan is a 6th degree blackbelt who teaches self defense to college students. Bain met Dugan when she worked at St. Norbert’s and was so impressed that she asked Principal Patrick Browne if Penny and her team could come to NDA.

“Penny is the toughest woman I’ve ever seen, and she is very professional,” said Bain. “She not only taught moves and tactics, but the psychology behind victim vs. empowerment attitudes.”

During the seminar, the seniors split into groups of about seven with one volunteer. They learned what to shout when attacked, how to block attacks and remove themselves from the situation, how to handle attacks with weapons, and how to defend and fight back. The full session lasted about an hour and a half. 

Dugan and her team shocked the students when they presented statistics about assault. According to these statistics, 1 in 3 people will be assaulted or attacked some time in their lives. 

It is crucial that students be able to protect themselves on college campuses, as this is where a majority of the assaults occur. The trends in aggression on campuses are rising, and Bain thought it’d be wise to educate the seniors as a preliminary caution.

“We are proud of this new direction as we continue educating the whole student, caring for them through the high school years and preparing them for life beyond NDA,” said Bain.