On April 5, 2023

High School: Remembering the little things

If you went to school in the Rutland area chances are your school yearbook is on the website of the Rutland Historical Society. Looking at it online allows you to visually reconnect with your high school days.

I sit at a breakfast table weekly with some classmates and this often results in a “verbal reconnect” with those days. Three of us in the group graduated from Mount Saint Joseph Academy (MSJ) back in the 1960s and we all loved our high school days.

Sometimes it’s the little things and not the big events that make the best memories. Let’s take a look back and maybe our high school memories will evoke some fond memories of your own.

In the ’60s the first floor of MSJ was for the business students. College prep students were on the second floor. It was like two different worlds with two different sets of memories.

My friend, Anita, who was a student in the business section, reminisced about helping out in the school office during the day. She felt really lucky when she was told that she would be needed there for the entire day. Keeping up with her class assignments was still required but she loved every minute of her experience in the “real” business world. MSJ knew how to pick a “good worker” as Anita went on to a successful banking career.

My cousin, Betty, was also in the business section. She had “the honor” of collecting attendance slips. She recalls that one teacher always placed his slips in one hand of the Blessed Mother’s statue. Betty could just grab them on the way by and no classes were disturbed!

One of my memories is good for a laugh as long as I don’t mind laughing at myself! For some reason I decided to take a course in home economics. That was not a normal choice for a college prep student. I have no idea what I was thinking! It didn’t take me long to figure out that I should stick to academics. One of our projects was making a skirt. We hemmed our skirts by hand. When the bell rang and I stood up to go to my next class I found that I had stitched the skirt to my school uniform. I had to pull out all the stitches and get a note from my teacher, Mrs. McGarry, explaining why I was about 20 minutes late for my next class.

Thank goodness my friend, Anita, is a skilled seamstress. She has hemmed many items for me over the years. I never got any better at that task than I was back in the ’60s. Eventually I gave up trying. Thank you, Anita!

School clubs were a big part of a student’s life. The choices were numerous. In fact my mother asked me if there were any clubs I didn’t belong to. Most of them met at night and for some reason my mother was usually the driver for me and my friends. I remember my mother asking, “Doesn’t anyone else’s mother know how to drive?”

But there was one club I didn’t belong to and it wasn’t by choice. It was the Glee Club. I was denied because I couldn’t carry a tune. I wanted to join because my friends belonged. I even offered to lip sync. That request was denied. I was persistent enough to try out every year and Major Pelton kept telling me my voice hadn’t changed. I guess that was the “standard reason” even if you were a girl and a changing voice is a “boy thing.” When your voice sounds like “nails on a chalkboard” you have to be denied.

What clubs could you belong to back then? Just name your interest and there was a club waiting for you. Among our choices at MSJ were: French Club, Latin Club, Science Club, National Honor Society Club, Business Club, Public Speaking Club, Future Teachers Club, Future Nurses Club, Music Club, Glee Club and the Varsity Club.

Add in all the sports that one could participate in and there was no way a student could be bored “back in the day.” There were also opportunities for students to be in plays and the school band.

Our education was well-rounded and there were plenty of ways to have fun as we learned.

Even if you chose not to be an active participant in sports or the band being an observer was equally fun. The bleachers were full at all sporting events and being in the audience at a school play was always a fun experience.

As they say, “Those were the days!”

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