11 September 2012

The Muse: Alma Mater

EBEW - Back To School

I I found this month's challenge for Everybody, Everywhere verenjoyable, back to school. Now being a teacher back to school is always on the brain, however all of the suggestions people made, plaid, school colors, etc were easily accessible options. K-8th grade I went to public school in my hometown, but for high school I crossed the state line into Massachusetts to attend Catholic high school. I won't lie, I loved high school, everything about it. I like the classes, my teachers, all the new friends I met. It was wonderful having friends who grew up all over the place and had totally different experience of life than I did. Most people don't experience that until college or even later in life. I loved going to football games on Friday nights and school dances on Saturday. To this day I think I have spent more time hanging out in the cafeteria after school than I have anywhere else. I really loved my uniform, I still love it and wear it from time to time, more than once for Halloween, and just as much remixed with other items in my closet. I'm just thankful I still fit in it, though when I wear it now I unstitched the hem because by the end of my school career it was really short (I dare any Catholic school girl to deny rolling their skirt or hemming it up with a stapler, we all did it, I'm just suprised my mother let me out of the house). I realize such a love of high school is deeply unhip (as unhip as saying 'unhip') but honestly when I was in school it never occurred to me that anyone didn't love it. Sure some people hated class, but I always thought the other 'stuff' made up for it. Last year I was out with some friends (not from high school) in Providence and a girl we met asked when I went to high school. When I told her Bishop Feehan she called over her roommate who it turns out graduated a year ahead of me. When I brought it up and prepared to launch into a conversation about our shared history, the 'remember whens', she stopped me and said 'Oh my God I hate that shithole so much I can't even talk about it, those were the worst four years of my life.' I was frankly shocked, she couldn't be talking about my school surely? Now as a teacher I am fully aware of the thing that can make school hell, bullying, peer pressure, academic struggles, but I honestly couldn't understand coming away from four years of your life and having nothing to show for it, and zero good things to say. There is always some kind of silver lining, and while I realize that not everyone had my Glory Days-esque experience I was very sad to hear her, and anyone say that. I think I'm most sad because I'm also a firm believer that much of life, school in particular is only what you make it. I could have chosen not to enjoy school like she clearly did, I know however that while my high school had a lot of good things to offer that enhanced my experience, I would have had fun no matter where I went. I hope her other stops in life have been more pleasant. For me I can't complain, the best friends I have in life all hailed from my years at Feehan, some who I see often, others rarely. I can honestly say though that I could pick up the phone anytime anyplace and they would be there for me. I like to think that the setting in which we met and the experiences that we shared there somehow shaped that.
So today I went back to school literally, wearing my uniform skirt and walked the hallowed halls again. Well not literally, because I actually had a hard time finding a good spot of take photos given that there were four different ball games going on. Alma mater literally means bounteous mother in Latin, however the bounty of my alma mater was rather crowded. I wanted to recreate my first day of school picture (see below) but I couldn't get near that entrance because of all the visiting teams buses. I also felt far more conspicuous than usual while taking photos as td I was paranoid I'd see a teacher or some of my friends who are teachers and now teach there. Just when you think you're all grown up with a blog you find yourself ducking behind cars in the parking lot of you old high school. Glory Days indeed.
Sweater: Chaps thrifted via Krazy Daisy
Tank: Old Navy
Skirt: Donelly's uniforms
Shoes: Nine West thrifted via Krazy Daisy
Headband: Forever 21
Bracelet: CVS
Purse: Walmart
Brooch: vintage via yard sale

 Our mascot was the shamrock, our school colors green, gold, and white, this floral pin was the closest I had to a shamrock in jewelry. One of my friends went Harvard and joked, "Oh great my mascot is a color now, at least its a step up from a weed." In truth our mascot at games was "Shamrock Man" aka a Leprechaun like Notre Dame's Fighting Irish.

My actual first day of school August 30, 2001 with my friends Lauren (on the left) and Alyssa (on the right) there might be stiff competition out there, but this is a highly qualified contestant for the worst picture ever taken of me. My skirt is sooooo long, my shirt is soooo puffy, and I am wearing really dark lipstick, not to mention my granny shoes and lack of makeup. Then again who among us was a beauty queen at 14?

 Rocking the Feehan plaid skirt my freshman year of college at a political fundraiser with a black cashmere sweater, sequined scarf from Paris, and a vintage Whiting and Davis clutch (on the table)

Also a note of remembrance on the 11th anniversary of September 11th, the photo taken on my first day of school was only two weeks before the events happened, and it is one of my clearest memories of my freshman year of high school. I remember the principal coming over the intercom and having us say a school-wide prayer for an 'incident that occurred in New York City'. The next period in history class I remember Mr. Gagnon turning on the television and saying, "Today your only assignment in class is to watch this, because nothing that I can teach you about history will be as important and impact your lives as much as what is happening right now." We continued to watch for the rest of the day, even at lunch. Eleven years later, I think he was right, and from that point onward we lived in a brave new world.


  1. Liz,
    this is very impressive. Love the pictures (the shoes are great--cannot imagine you gracing the halls of Feehan in them back in the day). Your remembrance of 9/11 is touching. for me, it was going into my Eng III class to continue with Beowulf. at first I thought, "what in the world does this have to do with what just happened to us today?" And then it hit me: there is evil in the world now, there was evil then, let's just talk about it.
    Thanks for sharing, Liz!

    1. Thanks for your comments all! it means a lot as this outfit has a particular sentimental value for me, its a privilege to be able to share it with you! Also RS, I did say I loved my high school teachers didn't I? That definitely bears repeating, especially when the teachers in question went with me to the hospital in a German airport and now read my blog! Also Beowulf is always relevant, no matter what anyone says, in fact I named my trivia team Hrothgar!

    2. wish I could "like" this, fb style.

  2. Oh, memories. I love those shoes, as well as the plaid skirt. I can't resist a plaid skirt and I also can't believe you still get use out of your school uniform!

    -Desiree, Pop-o-matic Deluxe

  3. I'm like you--I loved high school, though most everyone I graduated with hated it. So glad I'm not the only person who enjoyed high school!

    I didn't have to wear a uniform in high school, but I thrifted a vintage plaid school skirt, and I love it! I love how you styled yours!