To the surprise of students and staff at Resurrection Catholic School, a large banner appeared in the gym on the morning of Dec. 7 that hadn’t been there when basketball practice ended at 8:30 p.m. the night before.

Sixth grade teacher and retired Navy Captain Michael Patten created the “Go Navy Beat Army” banner continuing a tradition that started when he was a plebe at the U.S. Naval Academy. The current 40’ x 15’ iteration, his 13th, is “embarrassingly small,” he said.

“It’s made from 8’ x 5’ bed sheets,” Patten said. The largest I ever made was 72 bed sheets.”

He said this one was much easier to hang than that big one because wind and weight weren’t a factor. He usually hung the banners outside and fought the wind. The larger ones are heavier, something he also noticed when he carried and displayed them at the football games.

Patten typically takes the long Thanksgiving weekend to make the banners, a timely opportunity because the traditional Army-Navy game (scheduled for Dec. 9) used to happen the following weekend. He’s made a banner at every Naval command he’s ever been stationed and, “Now that I’m retired, this is my command,” he said.

The element of surprise is key. Patten stayed at the school until the evening hours when the gym quieted following basketball practice there.

“I always hang them in the dark of night when no one can see, so it’s there in the morning,” he said.

In the photo, Mr. Patten stands with his sixth grade class in front of his creation that includes the Resurrection logo and theme for the year, Family of Faith — Let Our Light Shine.