First Class of Marian Impacts the Future

J1 Reporter Tehra Finn-Jackson

Sister Midge Petersen ’59 and Bette Collins ‘59 Photo by Tehra Finn-Jackson

Sister Midge Petersen ’59 and Bette Collins ‘59
today near the Advancement entrance to the school. Photo by Tehra Finn-Jackson

When Marian graduate Bette Collins first showed up on the steps of Marian in 1955, the only thing she was worried about was if they were going to let her in.

Having attended St. Bernard’s grade school, she and a friend planned on going to Mercy together but opted out at the last minute. This is how she ended up out in the middle of nowhere in front of Sister Marcella, scared to death because she might be turned away. Thankfully, Sister Marcella never turned anyone down.

The Class of 1959 started out as freshmen and the only students in the school. With full skirts that reached their mid-calves and button-up vests, the students walked down the halls as high schoolers. Everything was new and exciting.

There were no sports and academics were not a concern for many. One of the only electives was sewing club and the sole language taught was Latin, but according to Collins, “just being in Marian made girls feel like they belonged and wanted to be there.”

The first class looked forward to many things in a new all-girls school. Collins remembers being excited for the dances and all of the other “neat” events high school brings.

Sister Midge Peterson, also a Marian graduate of 1959, recalls when boys started coming to pick up their girlfriends, describing it as “the best thing on earth.” Sister Marcella would announce over the PA, “Girls, there are trousers approaching the school,” and proceed to go out and meet them for her approval.

Social graces and social relationships flourished at Marian. Being lady-like was a key principle taught by the sisters. Sister Marcella always stressed for the girls to be “ladies to their fingertips.”

Along with others in the class, Sister Midge did much volunteer work. Polio was alarmingly prominent during her time. She would go down to the hospital to serve people who had contracted the disease. The work done by the first class created a tight bond and strong Marian foundation. The classes that followed seemed to agree.

As incoming freshman with only sophomores as our lead, every Marian girl paid great attention to follow the leaders and meet their standards,” said Marian Class of 1960 alumna Ginger Dobson.

The first class of Marian paved the way for the future, but one thing still remains the same, and that is the abundance of loyalty and pride Marian girls have in their school, and their display of the Marian spirit through their lifetime.

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