Blast From The Past

A glimpse of Presentation back in the day


Madison Affourtit, Copy Editor

Can you imagine the loudspeaker crackling to life and the voice of Dean Peggy Schrader announcing not a uniform check, but that everyone gets to take the rest of the day off from school?

It sounds crazy, but that type of thing used to happen at Pres all the time back in the day. Things have obviously changed in the past 54 years.

Current principal Mary Miller claims that regardless of all of the changes, Pres has kept its spirit of community and close student-teacher relationships. Although this is true, Miller recalls the rules being stricter and the teachers being harder on their students. “Things were a lot tighter than they are right now.”

PE Health Department Chair Dianne Lagana claims that back in 1969 when she graduated, tuition was only $375 per year and the class sizes were around 70. In these times, teachers were mostly nuns and students weren’t given nearly as many opportunities as they have now.

The computer rooms were filled with manual typewriters, which eventually evolved to electric ones. Students didn’t even have calculators, but instead used slide rulers. Also, because it was a time of less technology, phone booths were placed around campus.

According to Miller, along with this lack of distraction came a sense of boredom. She claims that when she was a student they often made trouble and came up with silly games to pass the time. “We had somebody’s VW, we got it into the courtyard and we tried to figure out how many girls we could stuff into it. And we ended up breaking it so we had to have it towed out.”

Miller also notes how much the curriculum has changed. The school didn’t have enough students to take physics so they only offered the chance to take it over at Bellarmine. Miller says that although they still had incredible English and writing programs, their math and science departments were not very strong.

There was also–true to the times–a sewing and personality development class offered. And business was focused on typing and shorthand, to prepare girls for becoming secretaries.

As for the style in this time, Lagana recalls that students wore penny loafers, white collared blouses and knee high socks. Their skirts were wool and typically worn much longer. They also had wool blazers that would serve as their formal attire.

Religion teacher Catherine Aquino says, “There was no sweat uniform.  I wore the same skirt every day for four straight years. I still have it.”

Moreover, Presentation’s sports program was basically non-existent. Miller says that when she attended, there were only three teams: softball, volleyball and basketball. And these sports were all played in knee length one piece suits. There was no field, so players used the concrete parking lot. And they didn’t have enough students to sustain any freshman teams.

Director of Admissions Dina Cannizzaro, who graduated in 1981, says there was mandatory P.E., which occurred on the blacktop. “We had P.E. uniforms that we had to wear, and they were very unattractive.” She also says they didn’t have a locker room, so they had to change in the classes.

Cannizzaro also fondly recalls that students were allowed to go off campus for lunch. “There was a Taco Bell and a McDonald’s on Meridian that we’d go to and both of them are gone now.” There were no picnic tables in the courtyard, and not much of a food service.

Social studies teacher Siobhan O’Byrne (91), says “There was a couple of moms that provided [food] for one year when we were here.” Lagana adds that there were vending machines for hot canned food and some beverages. But mostly, students were bringing their lunch or going off campus.

The facilities have also obviously undergone major growth and improvement. When the school initially started, only the main building and the center were built. And way off in the distance were a few tennis courts that have since been removed. Since its founding, the pool, the gym, the theatre, the new buildings and the fields have been added.

Speaking of the theatre, O’Byrne says that the small drama department that they had was forced to put on their shows in the center. “Every single year they had to build the risers and put up blackout curtains.”

Aquino claims, “Mrs. Stampfl’s room was the locker room.  It had a wall of little baskets to put your things.”

Although few students were driving to school, seniors had their own parking spots. O’Byrne swears, “There was oodles of parking for the small number of students that were here.”

Science teacher, Alyssa Dickey (07), also remembers that dances caused as much trouble as they do now: “Back in my day, ‘grinding’ and ‘freaking’ were the main forms of dancing even though it was against the rules. I was nervous to chaperone my first mixer but seeing that that style is out now is great.”

She also claims that Pres has become a more accepting and down to earth school. “From my perspective now, if teachers sees bullying happen, they work hard to stop it.”

Along with all this, the yearbooks were paperback, there was only one junior ring to choose from, ski trips were offered, graduation gowns were baby blue, seamstresses for fashion show were also the models, and there was no block schedule.

Although this sounds like a much harder way to attend school, Pres had its own small ways of being unique and having a sense of community. Aquino says, “Some of my favorite memories are of the school day randomly being cut short because of good behavior at Mass. It was awesome.  So spontaneous and joyful.”