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Lecture gives a taste of Bishop’s School history

BY RUTH VARONFAKIS

Contributor

Smartly attired in her 53-year-old uniform with matching blazer, Bishop’s graduate Alison Adams Royle kicked off the La Jolla Historical Society’s Winter 2010 lecture series, “School Days: Celebrating the Past and Exploring the Future of La Jolla Schools.”

Speaking fondly of her years as a Bishop’s student on Jan. 26 in the Teitleman Science Center, Royle described the school’s “demand for an intellectual rigor from the students while admonishing them to live simply and hopefully while giving back to the community.”

Royle, a day student while attending Bishop’s, recounted the lives of girls who lived under often austere circumstances while boarding at the school. On Sundays, boarders were required to sew while the headmistress read “Winnie the Pooh.” With “simple class structures,” no diversity or formal college career counseling, the girls were encouraged to become teachers, nurses, secretaries or housewives, she noted.

Also on the program, attended by about 50, was the school’s current Department of Foreign Languages chair, Mary Jane Sutherland, who discussed the transition she witnessed the school was forced to address during the turbulent 1960s and ‘70s.

While the country was undergoing tumultuous change, Bishop’s students also asked for change within its walls from the “authoritarian” rule, while women on the faculty argued to wear pants, she said.

Sutherland recounted the years after the school, still innocent and naïve, merged with the San Miguel School for Boys in 1971. Then students were required to wear the stark white, shirts-and-shorts physical education uniforms as they marched to the music of John Phillip Sousa on the Quad — much to the boys’ chagrin.

Newly installed Headmistress Aimeclare Roche ended the program discussing what lies ahead at the “remarkable, flexible and dynamic institution.”

Roche said, “A cross-cultural dialog awaits, and yet our ability to consider thoughtfully the perspective of another for race, ethnicity, faith, age, experience or orientation is key to our functioning and our effectiveness at the crossroads of intellectual thought and social action.”

The series continues on Feb. 24 at La Jolla High School, when Sandy Coggan Erickson, Class of ’62 and founder of the LJHS Alumni Association, joins 1944 alumnus and former faculty member Harry Crosby and the school’s principal, Dana Shelbourne. The 7 p.m. program in the Parker Community Auditorium, at 750 Nautilus St., will be preceded by an exhibit at 6 p.m. and a reception at 6:30 p.m.

On March 16, Cynthia Balmer Coleman, whose mother founded the Balmer School — predecessor to La Jolla Country Day School — will be featured along with longtime faculty member Will Erickson and Headmaster Christopher Schuck. That event begins with a tour of Country Day at 6 p.m., a reception and the 7 p.m. presentation in the multipurpose room in the Jacobs Family Library/Academic Center, 9490 Genessee Ave.

Reservations require advance payment of $10 per lecture for members; nonmembers are $12 per lecture. Reservations may be made at www.lajollahistory.org or (858) 459-5335, Ext. 1.