Catholic School Days

Meryl Streep is nominated for best actress in Doubt, which she plays the head nun of a school and thinks a boy is being abused by the pastor. As always she did an awesome acting job. Throughout the movie I kept thinking back to the days when I attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in the small town of Boonton, NJ. I had to tell myself to concentrate on the movie and not on Meryl’s character which kept reminding me of Sister Georgita, the meanest nun in the school. Her presence alone and the way she made her entrance into the classroom would have won her the Oscar for strictest nun in the convent! She only taught us Math and Science but when she walked into the room I would literally get sick to my stomach, she was so intimidating which is of course what she wanted. I do remember her pulling ears of students (usually the boys) and the way she would hold a ruler was pure torture. If I had to say one good thing about her I would say that I did ace Algebra in High School and it was all because of her.

Catholic School does have its pros and cons. My fondest school memories are of grade school more so then high school which was public. I liked the small class of 32 kids that I had from 1st through 8th which stayed with mostly the same kids. I didn’t mind the uniform much either, I knew exactly what I was going to wear each day giving me more time to sleep in. I never liked having to line up for everything…changing classes, going to the bathroom, going to and coming back from lunch, going to the auditorium…LINES, LINES, LINES!!! And every time someone came into the room we would have to all say in unison “good morning Sister Adrienne”…ugh. Talking was only allowed at lunch time, there was no talking allowed while walking in all those damn lines. I also remember practicing singing a lot in church…maybe that is what gave me the confidence to karoke.

You can imagine the culture shock I had when going to a public high school where you were allowed to wear halter tops, talk in the halls, pick your classes and even smoke on covered walk…WOW. I felt like Dorothy opening that door from black and white to the colorful oz.

I would love to hear anyone’s Catholic school memories.

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8 Responses

  1. There is not enough room to comment on all of my memories. I do remember having the same sick feeling whenever Sister Georgita came within 100 yards of me. The only fond memories that I have of Mount Carmel are of Sister Jean de Paul my third grade teacher. She understood me and she genuinely liked me. All the other nuns were social rejects that joined the convent to hide from society. I found out years later that Sister Jean de Paul left the Convent and took a job in retail. I love to reminisce about Catholic School with others that either went to Mount Carmel or another. But I would never send my child to Catholic School unless they have changed . I honestly don’t know if they get away with the same crap that they used to. I hated being there and couldn’t wait to leave…which I eventually did sometime in 7th grade. ( They actually asked me to leave)
    Oh…I do have one more fond memory…LILACS ..I love lilacs and that was the flowers we used to crown Mary in May.

  2. I remember having to freeze when Sr Albertine rang the big bell. Then she’d ring it again and we would proceed to getting in line to go inside. I remember a time when girls had to be on one side of the parking lot, boys on the other. And I, rebelliously, stood on the line that separate both. I remember the spit pit….the unforbidden abyss where a kickball would land and no one would want to retrieve it. There is so much to remember…teachers, plays (doing the Irish jig in green paper skirts), singing with Ms LaSalandra (I’m so pretty, oh so pretty, while pretending to look in a mirror), dodge ball, sports banquets…etc. It was an enjoyable time for me….better for me than High School. The friendships built still seem familiar even when you’ve met up with someone after 20 or 30 years. Hey, and wasn’t there 35 kids…I distinctly remember naming all 35 when we were driving to AC a few years back

  3. Ahhhh… the memories!!!!. Sr. Georgita scared the crap out of me! I tried to steer clear of her in the hallways. I remember one afternoon I was suppose to be in her extra help class after school on a Wend. and i was blowing it off, and i got to talking to good ole Mr. McGowan at the door about sports and just then… BAM she grabbed me by the ear and started pulling me and she said in that voice i can still hear “Going some where Mr. Kerrigan?” Never saw her coming! And you are so right, Meryl Streep reminded me of her in the movie! But so glad i still have friends from the OLMC days!!!!

  4. I enjoyed my years at OLMC. I agree, Sr. Jean dePaul was a wonderful and nurturing teacher, which I couldn’t say for many others. Mrs. Carey pulled my ear once and it really hurt. I tried hard not to cry, but maybe I did. I was only trying to be charitable and let someone (D.R.) stand in front of me in the line to lunch. (lines, lines lines). I didn’t have a problem with the uniforms either. Made the decision on what to wear easy. Sr. Adrienne suffered from a severe case of jealousy (I believe). I think something happened to her in her youth and she took it out on the 7th grade girls. I had detention once with John Westenberger in the convent (don’t remember what for) and he left the room we were in and went “investigating”. I was freaking out, so sure he’d get caught. Sr. Georgita was a nightmare. I remember getting 100% on a math test and she accused me of cheating. I remember writing on every paper and test: Name, grade (on line one). OLMC and date (on line two). Subject in the middle. Right order? One time I had to go to my brother (RJ’s) class room and clean his messy desk. He was in that room with the big closet that looked over the auditorium (my 5th grade classroom)

    I remember having many laughs over the years and friendships that last till today.

  5. I have more memories from Catholic school than the rest of my childhood. Mostly good. The discipline was there, and it isn’t in the current school systems. If you weren’t paying attention you may have gotten an eraser thrown at you. Kept us on our toes. Good clean fun in those days. No serious trouble. The staff were like a cast of cartoon characters. I still mimic and make fun of every teacher there. And I hated the uniforms with exception of the way some of the girls looked in them! Right Jim K.?? We still talk about it! No comment on who.

  6. O yes. I do remember. I attended an all-girl convent school from
    K – high school. St. Joseph Academy. Uniforms, demerits and
    terror until about the 10th grade. Lines for everything. And when any adult walked into the classrm., we stood up en masse. There was also all-girl summer camp, St. Gertrude’s, up in the country. Across the lake (about 2 miles wide) was the boys’
    camp at a Benedictine monastary. I still remember the rush of
    sneaking off at night to, um, visit. Long swim and so cold but lotsa fun. There were 32 in our grad. class and most of us had
    been together since K & 1st grade. We became pretty fearless.
    There were retreats every year. In our junior yr. we’d had enough
    of hell fire. Martha & I were the leaders of the pack and out of
    sheer mindless boredom we got into the cafeteria and got some
    peanut butter. We rolled it like sauages and decorated the nuns’
    bathrm. Hell to pay. There was much Healthy Rebellion to follow:
    Red lace panties flying from the flagpole. Sisters’ clothing stolen
    while they enjoyed the swimming pool one night. We almost
    didn’t have a prom that yr. O! Proms! The nuns would forbid
    any eyeshadow, red lipstick and would measure 3″ down from our neck to indicate our dresses’ neckline. Not a trace lower,
    And nothing strapless. When we were finally out of there and moved onto higher learner (most of us went to LSU), the classes
    were jokes. We’d done freshman yr. studies in about the 10th grade. And we could talk in class. Some students even chewed gum. (Automatic expulsion at The Academy.) We could wear real clothes and make-up. Freeeeedom! We had pizza & beer for lunch if we wanted to.
    Our Jr. yr. was spent in France. Our nuns’ order had a sister
    convent/school in Alsace and we exchanged students. That was
    so cool. We didn’t manage to get loose but I’ll never forget impressions and those experiences. Nothing teaches like travel,
    oui?
    I am so grateful to the nuns. I rec’d. an education in
    a thousand things. First and foremost, I learned to ignore
    bullies and I developed a sense of self that has served me well.
    Like it’s said, the marines were trained by nuns. I also acquired
    an intense curiosity about human behavior. As in what the L are
    you thinking/doing?
    I got whacked for using the wrong fork, being out of uniform,
    talking in the hall or after lights out. There were so many things
    leading to suspension. And I always got it worse at home! But every visit to the principal’s office, every single demerit, and
    all the free lectures gave me a gift & between times I was having
    too much fun. If I wanted something bad enough I got up & got it myself. And that was the best education. Thanks Dalia.

  7. Wow Jaki, you have quite a memory, thanks for that great story! Nuns are a funny group of people, I can’t say I’m grateful for them but I am glad I did get to experience them.

  8. […] Comments Jaki on What’s Cooldalia on Catholic School DaysJaki on Catholic School DaysAnonymous on Barbara Millicent RobertsKim on Barbara […]

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