Do you ever wonder what it was like to be a student at Canterbury in the 1980s?
Well, I spoke to Mrs. Omaña ‘86 and she gave me some of the details about what student life was like, as well as some of the old “traditions” on campus, which aren’t around anymore.
A big difference in student life between now and 1986 was that there was sit-down dinners three nights a week, on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. After sit-down ended, students would congregate at the wall behind Sheehan house, where they would talk, play hackey sack, and hang out until study hall began at 7:30. The Sheehan wall was “the center of upper form life,” as Mrs. Omaña put it, and was the place where everyone would meet up, typically in the evenings.
Do you think having study hall for two hours is too long? Well, good thing you weren’t a student in the 1980s, because they had study hall for two and a half hours, from 7:30 until 10:00. Every week, there would also be “dorm masses,” which were optional evening masses that took place in the common room of a different dorm each Thursday. The mass began at 9:30 and was led by Father Rick Cursey. Mrs. Omaña describes the dorm masses as “relaxed and intimate,” and it was a good way for students to reflect and unwind towards the end of study hall.
On Friday nights once a month, “games club” was held in the Brodie Room, which used to serve as the snack bar and the student center before Steele Hall was built. Games club was held from 9:00 to 10:00, and was a time for students to escape study hall and to have a good time with their friends.
During games club, students would play board games such as chess, checkers, and back gammon. “It was like being home with your family,” says Mrs. Omaña, who remembers coming to games club every month to play backgammon with a friend.
Perhaps one of the coolest traditions that we no longer have at Canterbury was the “senior send-off,” which was planned by the underformers for the sixth formers each year. The send-off was held at Sheehan wall and the fifth form did all the preparations, such as creating a slideshow with pictures of each sixth former and finding a soundtrack to go with it.
There was a cookout and students would write in each other’s yearbooks, leading up to the presentation of the slideshow, which was projected onto a sheet or a wall in Sheehan house. This was a nice way for the underformers to say their goodbyes to the sixth form, and to thank them for their leadership and friendship.
Similar to the John Pettibone mentoring we provided last year, and the current visits to the nursing home, in the 1980s Mr. Simonelli would bring students to Southbury Training School on Thursday evenings to teach class. Canterbury students would teach children how to write their names, tell time, some basic cooking, and to do laundry and fold clothes. “I remember teaching a class on telling time and writing your name,” says Mrs. Omaña. “You really got to know your class.”
Every spring behind what is now Carter house, there would be a “Luau,” a Hawaiian dance held outside. A pit would be dug for a pig roast, and sand would be brought in to make it seem more like on the beach.
Even a band would be brought in to play on the back patio of Carter! “It was all about the band,” says Mrs. Omaña.
Thank you, Mrs. Omaña, for giving us the scoop on what it was like to be a Canterbury Saint in the 1980s. Maybe we can work on bringing back some of these traditions. lroast, and sand would be brought in to make it seem more tropical.
Even a band would be brought in to perform for students to play on the back patio of Carter! “It was all about the band,” says Mrs. Omaña.
Thank you, Mrs. Omaña, for giving us the scoop on what it was like to be a Canterbury Saint in the 1980’s.
Maybe we can work on bringing back some of these traditions for years to come.
Amy Omaña’s (McKenna) yearbook photo.