...but in a good way.

Full text from the commercialappeal.com in Memphis:

First-graders' lesson in life stirs Irish in 'em
Notre Dame fight song rings as nun teaches about choices

By Michael Lollar
Friday, May 2, 2008

There's a reading class in one room, a math class next door.

The hallways are hushed until you turn the corner to Sister Connie Tarallo's first-grade class at St. Ann Catholic School. Abruptly, it sounds like cheerleaders have converged on the Bartlett campus:

"Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame,

Wake up the echoes cheering her name,

Send a volley cheer on high ..."

Students, most of them 7 years old, are learning another lesson in life. It makes no difference whether you win or lose. It's how you play the game.

"Life is about making choices. You either make good choices or bad choices," Sister Connie tells her students.

You may choose to be a Vols fan. You may choose to be a Tigers fan or a Razorbacks fan, and that's all right. "But you also need to root for the team of the Blessed Mother," as Sister Connie will tell you.

That means learning -- and singing -- the Notre Dame fight song. And -- here's another lesson -- Notre Dame is French for "Our Lady." Sister Connie's students sing more of Our Lady's familiar chorus:

"Shake down the thunder from the sky!

What though the odds be great or small,

Old Notre Dame will win over all ..."

About 15 years ago, one of Sister Connie's former students attended St. Mary's College not far from the Notre Dame campus in Indiana. Sister Connie went to the student's graduation and, since she was in the neighborhood, visited the Notre Dame campus.

"There's a spirit there when you go to that campus. You can't put your finger on it. It's very special," says Sister Connie, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth.

She was born 65 years ago in the Boston area. Her family members were Boston College fans. Sister Connie grew up rooting for the Red Sox and the Patriots, but her fateful visit to Notre Dame was like seeing the face of the Virgin Mary on a potato or as a welcome apparition. She was converted.

A Boston Red Sox pennant hangs in the back of her classroom, but it is overwhelmed by Notre Dame memorabilia and the blue and gold of Sister Connie's favorite Fighting Irish.

Sister Connie likes the basketball team, but she loves the football team. She went to Nazareth College in Bardstown, Ky., and to Marygrove College in Detroit, but she was in attendance last week as a special guest when Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis spoke to Memphis' Notre Dame alumni at The Racquet Club.

Weis' signed photo now hangs on the bulletin board at the front of her classroom between a poster that says "Trees Are Terrific" and a "Wild Wind" Weekly Reader cover.

There are leprechaun mascots sitting atop computers and one sitting on a bookshelf next to a photo of Mother Teresa.

Sister Connie's 20 students are accustomed to the St. Ann colors -- orange, white and blue, a combination to satisfy Vols and Tigers fans among them. Sister Connie also counts herself as a fan of both.

"I love 'Rocky Top.' I really do. But when they play Notre Dame, you know how it is," she says.

She was in Knoxville in 2004 when Notre Dame beat the Vols, 17-14, but she has never attended a Fighting Irish home game in South Bend, Ind.

"When you're teaching first grade, you can't just take off," she says.

Most of her students are willing participants.

"I told my mom about Notre Dame, and she said she wouldn't even want to see them. She's for Iowa and Memphis," says Alexandra Theisen, 7, who is a Notre Dame fan, because, "Sister Connie is for them, and I like the fight song."

It takes students about two weeks at the beginning of each year to learn the song.

Matthew Bach, 7, says he loves it and sings it at home to his parents' protests.

"They say, 'It's OK, but it's driving me crazy,'" he says.

Sister Connie has felt neither compelled to confess nor seek absolution for her ardor. In fact, she has upped the ante by adding Our Lady's fight song as the ringtone to her cell phone.

"I just hope it doesn't go off in church. Everybody would know it was me," she says.