Thursday, May 29, 2014

'women can do great things.'

I started writing this four years ago, around the time Sacramento Magazine published its feature on the "Last Days of Loretto." It had been a year since the school announced its closing, and there were still so many answers never given, and a statement from Sister Helen to Sac Mag: "There isn't a Loretto High School."

I never finished writing this, and I never sent it. But as I was clearing out drafts in my inbox, I stumbled across it, and perhaps finishing it now and posting it online will one day reach the eyes and ears of the IBVM, who have had so little to say about the great loss that affected so many.


Dear Sister Helen,

I remember so clearly the afternoon in August 2003 I sat beside my fellow classmates and you welcomed us to our new home. We were incoming freshmen, shy and anxious about what high school would bring, and you said something that I've carried with me ever since: "You are Loretto wherever you go."

I believed it then, and I still believe it now--even if you've disowned your own words.

There are a lot of things about Loretto I personally didn't "get" when I first arrived--things that ranged from choosing individual class colors/mascots to the debutante-style graduation ceremony to Baby Think It Over (I still have nightmares about the crying) to "Why don't we have Home Ec classes?"

But as my first year came to an end, I started to appreciate all of those things I had panned before: I'll forever think of Loretto (and crazy, fun Homecoming traditions) whenever I see the Pink Panther because of that unique stamp on the Class of 2007; and I liked that we celebrated ridiculous days like Pi Day, made events on campus out of building catapults in Physics class, and gave special assembly days for a Shakespeare Festival. I didn't lose anything by not sitting in a class to learn home economics because we all still would sit around at lunch and knit, and there was always somebody on campus to teach you how to balance a checkbook or sew a button if you needed to learn, and they would never once belittle you in the process.

At Loretto, we were taught by some of the very best, who didn't view their jobs as just something they did to get a paycheck. They were passionate, and it made us passionate. It made me passionate, and I can say for sure I wouldn't be where I am today without those folks guiding and encouraging me at such a young age. For every challenge that confronted us, Loretto tried so desperately to provide the answers--whether it was in an eccentric counselor's office or inside a quiet chapel. I began to understand that Loretto was not just a campus on El Camino Avenue, but it represented equality, education, sisterhood, and faith. Because of Loretto, I am more confident in my ability to be that woman in the world who can "do great things," as Mary Ward insisted.

And sure, Loretto wasn't perfect--but no family is. You don't always have to like each other, but you always love each other.

Which is why it kills me to know how it all ended, and it will never make sense to me why there had been no outreach for help to save the school. It will never make sense why some of the most unique programs that helped build the Loretto community disappeared, and why, as Sacramento Magazine noted, the IBVM stood to pocket $3 million from the sale of the campus. (Also, what happened to all of the money people had been donating to build a pool on campus?)

I will always be grateful for my four years at Loretto and for the incredible young women I had the opportunity to sit next to, day in and day out. I'm grateful that there were teachers and administrators who built this space and loved it into the community it became.

I am still Loretto wherever I go. I sincerely hope you are too.

Traci Lee '07


13 comments:

  1. Great post! Captures the experience perfectly!

    -Jules

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  2. Love that you wrote this. I still miss my days there and am so sad that other young women won't have the opportunity to know the love that was Loretto.
    Grace c/o 2005

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  3. Excellent post! I made many friends there.
    Proud to be part of the Teal Turtles Class of '98 - Erin

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  4. Great post! We really are Loretto wherever we go. Michelle c/o 2003

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  5. This was an amazing article. Thank you so much for posting. With my 10 year reunion coming up this will be something I'm sure we will all be discussing. -Chelsea, Red Dragons, Class of '04, #foreverlhs

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  6. This is amazing. No matter what the year, we are all sisters (and I miss my sisters terribly). I cry every time I think of my former home closing its doors for good. Thank you for posting this!
    Gigi Spinoso
    Lime Green Leap Frogs Class of '08

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  7. Thank you and good night!!! <3
    Pink Pixies '03

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  8. Feeling sad that future generations won't know what it's like to be part of this community. Black widows '87

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  9. Our hearts will forever be there! -Sara, Burgundy Bears c/o '96

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  10. Heartfelt post that spoke volumes about the sisterhood and amazing community that still is Loreto, perhaps not in the physical sence but in spirit nonetheless. JTavera red Barrons"89"

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  11. I'm sharing this on the IBVM Facebook page. Maybe someone will read it.

    This is beautiful, and is the reason I agreed to work with Ann Schoff on the peer mentoring program at the school which now resides on Loretto's old campus. It serves as a presence of Loretto to prevent us from being forgotten. Sister Helen may have said "There is no Loretto High School," but Loretto will always exist in our hearts. We will always be Loretto wherever we go.

    Alison Sliwa
    Pink Panthers, 2007

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  12. Loretto is more than a school we sent our daughters to. It was our family, and as family we held each other, encouraged and supported each other, and even today we realize we will never say goodbye to our family. Thanks to all the teachers and Ann Shoff for keeping the spirit of Loretto more than just alive, but present in our midst. Peace.

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  13. I am so glad this surfaced..perfect timing as the school year ends and another graduation for the class of 2014'. Loretto will always be a part of me, my family,friends and the teachers who taught us as a labor of love. Thank you all Loretto lovelies for reminding us we are Loretto. And thank you Annie VS for my lion decal for my car xoxox God bless Loretto alum and all of the devoted nuns,teachers and staff, and our parents who gave us the privilege of a Loretto education. Teresa Boron Irwin

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