Historical Corner: Then and Now

By Dr. Melinda Blade, Director of Mission Integration and Historian

As the new school year unfolded a few weeks ago, each student and her family received a copy of the 2018-2019 Student Planner. This Planner, greatly valued by the OLP families, has its origins in Handbooks that are six decades old. The oldest Student Handbook on file (that I have found so far) in the Archives is from 1960. It also represents the guidelines and important information for our families. The decades have gone by, but the material contained in the Handbook and Planner has
numerous similarities.

Both books begin with a letter from the Principal/Head of School and contain the leader’s expectations for the students and flesh out the philosophy and mission of the school. While ESLRs and ISOs did not exist in the educational lexicon of 1960, the ideas are the same: The student of 1960 was expected to be loyal, refined, exercise good judgment and be a balanced person. Both books contain a brief history of OLP. Also contained in each of the books is a map of the campus.

The 1960 Handbook goes on to explain that there were six buildings and all were “used to capacity.” Some things never change! Even the building names are the same, with the exception of St. Margaret’s having been renamed Qualiato in 1994 and dedicated by Bishop Robert Brom on February 6. A senior art cottage was located in between St. Joseph’s and St. Margaret’s (Qualiato). A tennis court was positioned in between Aquinas Hall and St. Margaret’s (Qualiato). The current library was a study hall and the Science Lab was located underneath it. St. Margaret’s (Qualiato) had a cafeteria in the basement and students were given instructions in the Handbook on how to enter the basement – shades of today’s instructions of how to enter and exit the Café!

The 1960 daily schedule was similar to today’s bell schedule – the day began with announcements, there were seven classes each day (current Pilots can take seven classes spread over two days), and there was a thirty-minute daily activity block (similar to G Block, for those not taking an academic class during G Block). The 1960 Sisterhood, however, began their day at 8:15 and ended it at 3:10.

Additional similarities include the existence of class rings, class colors, ASB cards, class retreats that lasted for three days, and Villa Montemar, the yearbook. Interesting differences, existed, however. While current classes begin with prayer, the prayers in 1960 indicated a specific prayer be offered for each block, and a specific intention accompanied that prayer. Second block of the day, for example, included the Confiteor, the Our Father and Hail Mary. The intention each second block for those prayers was for the family.

The academic lives of our 1960 students and their present-day contemporaries are both similar and dissimilar. While CSF was active on campus, the classes that allowed a student to apply for CSF membership in 1960 included Latin and German in addition to French and Spanish, Sociology, and Civics (now generally referred to as Government). The 1960 student also had a mandatory thirty-minute study hall each morning.

In 1960, the Pilots knew exactly what day their subject exams would be held: Monday was devoted to Religion tests, Tuesday was for Language tests, Wednesday was dedicated to History tests, Thursday was for English tests, and Friday was reserved for both Math and Science. Quarter exams and finals are a continued academic practice for generations of Pilots. Missed finals in 1960 resulted in a $1.00 fee to take it late.

Both Handbooks provide an intimate glimpse into the lives of OLP Pilots. This overview of the two Handbooks will continue in future issues of the Historian’s Corner. A treasure trove of OLP information allows us to reflect on the OLP traditions that remain and on those that have evolved over the decades.