Spring at the Convent: A Response


Grace Loonan, Freelance Editor

Recently, I read a prose piece featured in a Visitation Record Yearbook that was published in April 1924. It was an activity that Mr. McLaughlin had us do in world literature class, and it was eye-opening. Reading this prose piece, I realized for the first time that a spirit as old as the spirit of this school could be carried and kept alive throughout an entire century. I was amazed at the similarities between spring at Visitation as described by Kathleen Dohan, a student of the class of 1924 (whose picture can be found on the wall by the portress), and spring at Vis this year. I found that although some cultural aspects had changed (I don’t find myself getting excited about spring bonnets like they did), I could connect much of my life and the current schoolwide atmosphere with the descriptions in the piece. Moved by these connections, I decided to write my own response that follows the format of the original work. I’ve included both the original and my response in this article.


Almost a century later, spring continues to bring people out of their houses to celebrate the beautiful weather together, like butterflies waking up to stretch their wings. At Visitation, a school steeped in the tradition of the sisters, spring is a very perceptible process. The signs throughout the school of this spring, in 2022, are both similar to and different from the signs perceived in the spring of 1924.

At the first sign of spring, some uniform sweaters are shed, but the coolness of most classrooms discourages a significant outfit shift during the school day. However, outside of the school uniform, new clothes are much in evidence. Summer wardrobes are a hot topic of discussion, and students are shopping for prom and mil ball dresses when they probably should be working on their haibun essays or completing their math homework. Upper school girls can feel their energy levels dropping as they approach the end of the school year, which makes it harder for them to focus on learning. Even today, when laptops provide enough of a distraction, spring draws all eyes to gaze longingly at the view through the classroom windows. While before, our steps were weighed down by jackets and backpacks filled with books, students can now be seen running through the halls. Voices are heard in the Athletic Foyer, talking about upcoming meets, matches, and games. Some girls that clung to the corners where their own friend groups sat through the winter months now venture to sit and chat with other students during Flex. Sophomore religion teachers are giving the class updates about the number of weeks until the final day of school. Seniors are beginning to agonize over all of their “lasts,” juniors are becoming preoccupied with their dates for dances, sophomores begin to daydream about summer plans, and freshmen are daily becoming more excited about Fling. Tired-looking students can be seen crossing through the dining room before or after an AP exam.

The lower school students let loose their energy on the playground. Screams and shrieks can be heard through the windows of classrooms, mingled with the occasional shouting match to determine “who’s it” or “whose turn it is.”

Throughout all of this busy activity is the return of warm summer weather and fragrant breezes, which make some sad and nostalgic, others cheerful and talkative. The smell of blooming flowers carries the ages-old promise of summer vacation and the bittersweet indicator of the time when we must say goodbye to our beloved seniors who go before us into the world to find for themselves, and perhaps travel miles to try — Life outside the Vis Bubble.

—Grace Loonan, ‘24.