Mrs. Omaña—the Canterbury Student!

by Sabrina Capodicci ‘20

Mrs. Omaña (foreground) plays on the field hockey team.

Many things have changed since Mrs. Omaña was a student at Canterbury in 1982-86, from study hall to hangout spots to sitdown meals. Some things never change, though, and high school students will always find a way to have adventures.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Vanasse was known to drive a tiny French car. When the time for senior pranks came around, students knew exactly what to do.

A group of kids picked the car up from the Sheehan lot one night and hauled it through the stage’s double-doors. The next morning at school meeting, the stage curtains were opened to reveal none other than the infamous French automobile.

In addition to Mr. Vanasse, current faculty member Ms. Tester and recent faculty Mr. and Mrs. Mandler, Ms. Behan, and Dr. Lee were all at Canterbury when Mrs. Omaña attended. Ricky of the kitchen staff was also here!

She was admitted by Headmaster Roderick Clarke, hired by Headmaster Tom Sheehy, and now works with Head of School Rachel Stone.

One of Mrs. Omaña’s fondest memories was fun nights at the center of campus for hanging out—the Sheehan wall. “It was packed. Everyone sat on the wall and hung out those days,” she said.

The dining hall was in Duffy where the art room is now, and sitdown dinner was held outdoors on the patio on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Afterwards, faculty and students alike would go to the wall.

In good weather, the boys in the dorm would crank up their speakers, and games of hackey-sack and frisbee ran right up until study hall at 7:30. Yes, that’s right, study hall began at 7:30 and ended at 10.

Mrs. Omaña (third level from the ground, center) poses with her field hockey team.

Although the weather was less ideal for such activities in winter, it did lend itself to another adventure—sledding down chapel hill. Indoors, there were a variety of board games to keep students occupied. Mrs. Omaña hopes to resurrect these game nights as a weekend activity.

One major change was that the ‘80s were the pre-cell phone era. Everyone hung out in common rooms, there was no Netflix, and pay phones dotted the hallways.

Also, even with a longer study hall in the evenings, boarders had an hour of outdoor break from 10-11 pm. Unfortunately, this was soon relegated to upperformers only and then disappeared for all.

The outdoor break was not a free run, though. The old, near-deaf security guard, Chester, drove around campus to check up on students. One problem: his gas-guzzling sedan with the notable lack of a muffler quickly publicized his exact location. “You could hear him a mile away,” said Mrs. Omaña, “so misbehaving kids always got ahead of him.”

Campus, too, underwent changes over the years. There used to be a stable next to the McCarthys’ house! One horse, Penny, lived there for as long as anyone’s memory could reach. Indeed, Mrs. Omaña called her the “oldest living horse I’ve ever known”. Her graduating class of ‘86 took their senior photo in front of that very barn.

There was also a gorgeous carriage house behind Hickory, but with no use for it anymore, it was not taken care of. Soon, it became dangerous and had to be taken down.

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