Historical Corner: Graduation From the Past

By Dr. Melinda Blade, Director of Mission Integration and OLP Historian

In the September edition of the Historian’s Corner, I delved into the 1960 Student Handbook. It was a fascinating view of the students’ world as the new decade began. This article will cover aspects of the Student Handbook almost a decade later. The Class of 1969 will be our honored Golden Jubilee Class this graduation and the Archives just received a copy of their senior year Student Handbook.

It may seem like a long time until graduation, but ask any senior and she will tell you it is not soon enough. Ask any parent of a senior and he or she will tell you that the years are whizzing by too fast. Ask any teacher and he or she will echo that sentiment as they cover their lesson plans Miss Margaret Wiedower, ’68, donated various artifacts from the Class of 1969, including the Student Handbook. I am sure that it was all most timely and appropriate in 1969, and it is a real time capsule of information to us today.

OLP of 1969 had club descriptions listed in the Handbook. Clubs included the Letterwomen’s Club, Pep Club, Pompon Corps, French, Spanish and Latin Clubs, Red Cross Club, the Library Club (Called the Aquinians after St. Thomas Aquinas, patron Saint of students), Science Club, Civics Club, and the National Forensic League. Each of those clubs with the exception of the Latin Club and the Aquinians, has a contemporary counterpoint currently on campus today. The Handbook also delineates a student’s expected behavior and provides guidelines for the students on how to be the perfect and appropriately behaved OLP Pilot. Attention was given to student behavior within the OLP halls. Students were reminded to show courtesy and kindness to each other and were reminded that this included both the faculty and maintenance personnel. Students were expected to stand each time a faculty member or adult entered a classroom. This included any guest speaker at a school assembly.

Students also were expected to respect the school furniture and equipment. Just as today’s Pilots are reminded that their off campus demeanor reflects the school, so too were our 1969 students: The Handbook states that conduct on buses, at social gatherings and being in the public spotlight reflects upon the school.

The uniform of 1969 bears some similar items as today’s uniforms. Not expected today for formal uniform? Both a Navy blue beret (to be kept in the student's locker at all times) and white gloves were to be worn. Black shoes were to be worn with formal dress, as well. Seniors requesting a transcript were able to receive one copy for free, but all succeeding copies were $1.00. Students were instructed to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT) and were informed that the Counseling Offices had college catalogs available to use as well as scholarship applications.

They were advised to seek assistance from the college representatives who would be visiting the OLP campus. Sounds just like today! Seniors could have held membership in two honor societies: CSF and NHS, both of which are still active on campus. In fifty years, much has changed regarding on and off campus expectations and standards, yet much remains the same or is similar. Constancy to those expectations allows generations of Pilots to relate to succeeding generations of Pilots. The Class of 1969 will have much in common with their younger sisters come graduation this year.