By LOU PONSI     6/18/2024

DEBBIE RAMIREZ WATSON, a member of Rosary Academy’s graduating class of 1989, refers to her years at the all-girls Catholic high school as a being “transformative experience.”

The Rosary alumna cherishes the bonds she cultivated with her Rosary sisters along with the decades-old traditions such as the Rosary Day ring ceremony and the Red & Gold musical theatre production.

As a 2024 Rosary graduate, Waston’s daughter, Julia Watson, participated in those same traditions, and has her own memories to look back on years from now as a Royal alumna.

The mother and daughter were among a group of 14 Rosary alumnae and their graduating daughters who were honored at the academy’s first ever legacy celebration on May 14.

“It’s a beautiful bond between mother and daughter,” said Watson, who is also mom to a 2022 Rosary graduate and current Rosary sophomore. “There’s this shared sisterhood now on a different level. We’re experiencing life, but not just as mother and daughter. It’s really been a beautiful thing to see.”

Julia Watson, a varsity soccer player for four years and ASB president, feels blessed to be part of the legacy.

“Rosary is just a place that has so many traditions and experiences and I know of a couple of my other friends at other schools are definitely not getting,” said Julia who will play soccer at the University of the Incarnate Word in Texas. “I’m already feeling like I want to go back and be a part of it. I want to be a mom. I want to be back here with my kids.”

Knowing there are students in every grade with mothers who attended Rosary, honoring these families for keeping the legacy alive is an appropriate gesture, said Nikki Pontius, who works in Rosary’s advancement department and is in charge of alumni relations.

“We value sisterhood and community as some of our top values,” said Pontius, who organized the celebration. “What better way to honor community and sisterhood than the one you have with your mother and we’re also starting to see three generations coming through in future classes.”

Twins Sage and Sonoma Baumgarter attended the celebration with their mother, Nina McEntee Baumgarter, a 1994 Rosary graduate who works for the Sisters of St. Joseph, Rosary’s founders. Nina McEntee Baumgarter, who attended St. Angela Merici Catholic School in nearby Brea, said her parents were committed to continuing their daughters’ Catholic education through high school.

“I’ve noticed they’ve kept a lot of the traditions exactly the same,” she said.

Sage and Sonoma also attended St. Angela Merici before Rosary.

“I’m just so excited to graduate and go on, but even going to school here, it’s kind of like walking in the footsteps of her,” said Sonoma, who will attend the University of Mississippi. “I get to see her and kind of just be in her shoes pretty much throughout my high school career. I like it, just living out like what she did as a teenager. I’m doing the same thing.”

Sage, who will attend the University of Colorado at Boulder, was a cheerleader and member of the choir at Rosary, the same as her mother.

“It’s been fun too, because she did cheer,” Sage said. “I did cheer. She did singing and I did singing.”

Sage envisions sending her own children to Rosary someday.

Rosary Academy Head of School Dr. Shawna L. Pautsch bestowed a special blessing to families and praised the legacy mothers for “giving your daughters the gift of Rosary.”

“I look at the mothers here today, who are graduates from several years before, and I see what you’ve done so far to take on the world,” Pautsch said. “I’m thrilled that I’m back to watch occasions like this that we get to honor the fact that you took the time, you took the talent that you had and your well-deserved treasure to send your daughters to Rosary.”