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Stories For A Century

"Crafting a Time Capsule: The Journey to 100 Years of Voices and Memories

2020 marked Rectory's centenary. The milestone anniversary made it a great time to connect with friends, share memories, and show school pride, so Rectory began to plan its Centennial Celebration with the hope of engaging the entire Rectory community. Head of School Fred Williams wanted some publication to mark the joyous occasion. The thought was to collect 100 “voices” from the community in honor of 100 years at Rectory. What began as a notion to collect 100 voices transformed into a 200-page masterpiece filled with historical articles, photographs, artifacts, and first-person recollections, guided by the skilled hands of graphic designer, and Rectory alum, past parent, and current trustee, Elizabeth Zimmermann `84 (Zim).

Over multiple years, Lisa and her team, consisting of Zim, Megan Bard, Lisa Walsh, and Hallie Leo, set off on the task of collecting over 100 stories from different members of the extended Rectory community. However, they faced the difficult task of filling the pages from the 1920s through the 1940s with voices from those who were no longer with us. Rather than viewing this challenge as a roadblock, Lisa perceived it as an extraordinary opportunity to narrate the tale of the early decades through articles sourced from the early editions of The Rectory News (TRN). When first published in 1927, TRN differed significantly from today's glossy communications. It was a vibrant repository of firsthand accounts from students and faculty, offering a vivid snapshot of day-to-day life on campus during that era.

Lisa's eyes lit up as she passionately recounted an example: "For instance, there was a picnic area down the path that goes out to Cow Hill. We had photos of that area and students enjoying picnics down there. But we also had writings from students writing about the picnics. They were contemporaries at the time. So that is how we were able to pull together the first half of the century." Enthusiastically, Lisa painted pictures of the past, where the pages of The Rectory News served as a time capsule, preserving not just visual snapshots but also the authentic voices and experiences of Rectory's community members. This innovative approach breathed life into historical narratives, creating a captivating blend of imagery and verbal accounts that seamlessly weaved together the rich tapestry of Rectory's early years.

The second half of the century came alive through face-to-face interviews and online submissions, embracing memories of live voices. One remarkable aspect is the publication's flexibility, accommodating memories of varying lengths and formats. Lisa cherishes this feature, offering readers a diverse experience, whether they choose a quick chronological trip, a moment with a classmate's story, or a leisurely read through one of the essays. "It can be sitting on your coffee table as a photo book or beside your bed for some more in-depth reading–it truly is a publication for all," Lisa exclaimed.

Lisa and her team's commitment to preserving and telling Rectory's rich history was inspiring. Quantifying the hours invested in such an impressive endeavor seemed nearly impossible given the meticulous attention to detail evident in every aspect. From the numerous formats designed to enhance the reader's experience and add layers of richness to the narrative to the art deco touches, thoughtfully crafted by Zim as a nod to the 1920s, not to mention the rigorous editing, the publication process was truly a labor of love.

Lisa expressed her deep gratitude for the collaborative effort of her team and everyone who contributed to the publication, be it through photographs, artifacts, memories, or the precious gift of time. "We are just so grateful to everybody who contributed," she noted, underlining the collective spirit that brought this publication to life. It's a tribute to the shared history and memories that define Rectory.

We hope this book conveys the breadth of Rectory's evolution over its 100 years and captures the sense and spirit of all that keeps Rectory in our minds and close to our hearts. As our school song (1994) reminds us, "The bell is ringing out through fresh country air. We sing a song or Rectory; our hearts are always there." The bell rings for us still, and we hope your hearts always will be there. (excerpted from the Preface of 100 Years Voice and Memories through the Decades)

 

To purchase your copy or to learn more about the publication, click here!


 

  • 2000s
  • 2010s

Campus Location:

Deal House

Contact Information:

Lisa Levesque, Centennial Coordinator

Rectory School Centennial
528 Pomfret Street
P.O. Box 68
Pomfret, CT 06258

centennial@rectoryschool.org