The Marist lived up to every single Catholic and Private school stereotype

Who else is pumped for mass

Consisting of a mere four hundred girls, all dressed in gold shirts and kilts, attending mass once a month – the Marist school managed to live up to Catholic, private school stereotypes.

Scary Mary may as well have been our school mascot

Being a Catholic school, The Marist had an abundance of religious statues and art, in particular the infamous “scary Mary” who hid in the depth of the woods used for cross country, known for her ironic lack of eyes. Of course, you could not step foot in a classroom without being greeted by a crucifix and you could not start a day without mumbling a prayer – unless you were ‘lucky’ enough to have a form tutor who insisted that all time should be devoted to learning.

Mass was a silent room full of pent up emotions

The school’s monthly Mass was a calamity of aggravated teachers, bored students and the regular hypo-religious fainter – saved by the sports teachers running to their side to help escort them out of the hall. Everyone dreaded ash Wednesday, when we would all queue up half way through mass to have ash, vaguely in the shape of a cross, smeared on our foreheads – occasionally resulting in an allergic reaction. However, there was a secret affection for the half day as a result of Mass, which usually helped us to avoid homework due in.

There were so many nuns

Having nuns living in the convent on site resulted in the daily activity of dodging their cars, as we joked that they aimed angrily for any girls not walking down the assigned pathway when walking between buildings – all of which were named after saints, of course. Behind the convent lay the nun’s graveyard, which you could not help stumbling across whilst doing orienteering in sports lessons, but don’t worry, despite the many stories, you would not be haunted by a ghostly nun if you were not reputed in prayer whilst walking past the graveyard.

Heads down, Kilts up

Possibly one of the biggest topics of conversation amongst the students was the persistent moaning about our uniform. The kilt, for a start, was a constant battle of rolling up your skirt and quickly yanking it back down when one of the stricter teachers walked past, and god-forbid they would catch you without your kilt pin in; there’d be hell to pay. The kilt pin was considered such a crucial part of the uniform, we even endured an assembly on how to properly wear it. The kilt was accompanied by a bright gold shirt, a navy jumper and navy tights (strictly not black). At least in Summer term we were allowed to ditch the kilts and wear our striped summer dresses, resulting in us all resembling nurses. However, apparently the dresses were so completely see-through that teachers requested we were ‘slips’ beneath them, to avoid offending male teachers. Logic would dictate changing the dress, but ‘traditional attire’ mandate decided otherwise.

Repeated assemblies would consist of the teachers moaning constantly about ballet pumps and warning us of possible bunions and deformed feet which were guaranteed to result from our ‘flimsy shoes’. Eventually this resulted on a ban on any pumps deemed not ‘supportive’ enough. The girls’ biggest way to rebel was by making our hair as messy as possible, resulting in us having a cross between a testicle and a birds nest sat on top of our heads.

Charlotte Lavender styling the 'ballsack'

Charlotte Lavender styling the ‘ballsack’

The uniforms did not stop at kilts and navy tights, all girls had to wear the school backpack from year seven to year nine, in which you were allowed to change to the school satchel. We had bright blue school swimsuits accompanied by school swim hats, all of which were embellished with the school’s ‘Ave Maria’ logo. The shorts were possibly the worst part of the school sports kit, as they resembled giant bright blue nappies, and – despite being the uniform – were deemed unsuitably short to be allowed within any area other than the sports hall. Would it even be a private school if you could not only purchase the uniform in a prestigious uniform shop in Eton? Losing any part of your uniform, whilst twenty girls all tried to change crammed into one small room, would mean paying £1 to the sports department in order to be allowed it back, yes that means losing a pair of socks would cost you £2 – because apparently we did not pay the school enough already.

‘Ubi Est Porca’

One of the most pointless lessons any of the girls sat through was Latin. In year seven all students had to attend Latin classes, in which the only sentence we learnt was ‘ubi est porca’, meaning ‘where is the pig’ – a vital part of Latin of course. Besides this Latin lessons were spent playing with the teacher’s puppet animals which she insisted helped us learn.  Design Technology was clearly not an option at our school, as it is not a proper activity for ‘ladies’. Instead we were taught how to sew and cook – maintaining mandatory compliance with ancient sexist stereotypes.

The school appeared to be in denial that any student would even consider any kind of sexual activity –  so much so we were not even given sex ED talks. We missed out on the thrilling activity of putting condoms on cucumbers and instead were scared out of sex by intensive talks on pregnancy.

Boys, boys, boys

Despite the rumours, not all girls who attended a single-sex school were lesbians, and we were aware that another gender existed. However, no girl in the year could so much as look at a boy without the entirety of the year finding out and her being instantly grilled for every possible detail – the way we acted you may suspect we’d never seen a boy before. The school however, did not approve of contact with the opposite gender. The discos with the local boys school were quickly stopped, when girls were found ‘canoodling’ on the field. The biggest scandal in the school was always a result of leaked nudes – causing the girl to be instantly expelled to uphold the school’s reputation. Surprisingly scandalous, for such a wonderfully organised Catholic Girls School.

‘It’s not a holiday if you don’t leave the country’

On top of the girls family holidays to the south of France, Barbados and New York, the school organised
annual sports tours and ski trips. Anyone who was anybody was a part of a sports team, and would attend the tours, on which we would spend a small amount of time playing hockey or netball, and the majority of the time on  the beach. Of course we all wore the school’s personalised hockey and netball uniforms as well as the sports tour hoodies. We would hear rumours of other school’s ski trips on which they would get drunk in the evening or sneak out, however, being the good Catholic school girls that we were, we did not dare do this. The most thrilling part of the trip for us would be when we carolled ‘Ave Maria’ in embarrassed mumbles at the Christmas market.

One big pretentious family

Despite the fact that the canteen was referred to as the ‘dining room’ and our exam phone box looked like an apple store, not all private school girls are as pretentious as they may seem. We did not all own ponies and live in mansions, and although it lived up to many private school reputations, I would not have changed the Marist for the world. The many catfights may have been a slight distraction from learning – as it is difficult to study whilst involved in screaming matches over someone’s boyfriend – and although we earned the label of ‘one of the bitchiest schools in Ascot’, the Marist resulted in some great memories and lifelong friends.