By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published July 1, 2004
When Mary Katherine Alldred graduated at the top of her class at North Forsyth High School this year, she had a mission—Christ Redeemer Mission—behind her.
The 18-year-old, who will be attending Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind., is “our Mary” to people like Jim and Rita Lowe, founding members of the mission.
Baptized at Christ Redeemer in March 1986, the daughter of Dennis and Jenny Alldred was not just the only child in her family but also “the only child in the church.”
“I pretty much had two families when I was little—my own family and the Christ Redeemer family,” she said in a telephone interview June 24. “I had about 10 sets of grandparents . . . It was wonderful. I think I learned so much from the older parishioners who were there. They imparted their wisdom on me.”
Which explains why when she graduated, parishioners were as proud as her family of her many honors and remarkable accomplishments.
Class valedictorian with a 4.2 grade point average, Alldred is a National Merit Scholar, the first from NFHS, and a Georgia STAR Student, who tied with student Katie Lynch for the highest SAT score at one sitting, each scoring 1410. Alldred also received the Math Award in advanced placement calculus, a Presidential Academic Award and is a Northeast Georgia Academic All Star and a Georgia Scholar.
Production manager for the yearbook, she received the Yearbook Award, the Mock Trial Award, as the lead defense attorney in the mock trial, and the Football Trainer Award and Football Academic Award because as a student trainer working with the football team she had the highest GPA on the team.
Not a player, “I do preventative sports medicine for players who are at risk to get hurt. I’ve been doing that for six years,” she said, adding that she has taken part in sports medicine camps at Georgia Tech and the University of South Carolina to pursue her interests. She was one of two student athletic trainers working under Coach Hudson. Her father coaches the football team at North Forsyth Middle School.
She also likes scuba diving and is thinking that interest, combined with a plan to study biology at Notre Dame, might lead her eventually to aquatic research or exploration.
Alldred received her first Communion at Christ Redeemer—she thinks she was the only child receiving the sacrament that year—and was confirmed there along with one other boy. She attended religious education “regularly and faithfully” at the mission, and “she has always helped out when needed,” Rita Lowe said.
“She helped with the Christmas decorations in church, giving out the Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for the needy, preparing the Blessed Mother statue for the month of May, even picking up a paint brush when we were renovating the building in Dawsonville which became our church.”
Alldred lightly recounts doing the May crowning of Mary “for six or seven years in a row” because she was the only child available.
She was also the only altar server for many years and the first girl altar server. Now that the mission has more families with children, she has helped to train other altar servers and is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.
Although offered scholarships to a number of colleges and universities, Notre Dame was “absolutely” her first choice. “It just really impressed me more than any other college.”
The Catholic environment “was the biggie” in making her decision, Alldred said, adding she also “really liked how the dorms were set up” and the fact that students are assigned to a house where they then continue to live for all four years of college. The residents “become your family away from home.”
Notre Dame also offers her a lot of options for future careers and courses of study. “I want to keep my options open.”
She is receiving an $80,000 scholarship over four years from the university, which only gives need-based scholarships. That will cover about half her costs, she said. By choosing Notre Dame she relinquished a number of academic scholarships that she had won and a full scholarship elsewhere.
Members of Christ Redeemer Church have given her a gift of $1,000 for college, Alldred said.
“That is a great example of how they have supported me,” she added. “I’ve been very lucky.”