Thursday, March 3, 2016

Vincent's visit to his old prep school

We recently visited Puerto Rico, and the places where Vincent spent his childhood.  I realized that although he lived in San Juan from middle school through high school graduation, there would be very few paper records that showed his residency there.  He was born in New York, married in Massachusetts, and the only census taken during his possible time in Puerto Rico was 1980 when he was at school at MIT.  Was he enumerated in Puerto Rico at all?  The catholic church records won't show his confirmation in San Juan because he wasn't confirmed until he moved to New England.  What's left?  Maybe a driver's license? School records?

Vincent attended Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, a Jesuit prep school for young men, from grades seven through twelve.  He hadn't been back to visit since a reunion about 15 years ago.  We called ahead and got a nice tour from someone in the alumni office.  The school has changed a lot since Vincent graduated, adding a chapel, several classroom buildings and a computer lab. He did a lot of reminiscing as we walked around the campus.

The school symbol, and the lion mascot.
This symbol is on the class rings

This new chapel was added since Vincent graduated in the 1970s.

The campus is spread out in many small buildings over a tropical landscape.
There are over 750 students from grades seven to twelve

The gymnasium is open to the outside -
very different from my Massachusetts high school gym! 

The school song

We were pleased to see a memorial display to Father Charles Bierne near the alumni office.  Charlie was the principal of the school while Vincent was a student, and he was also a chaplain at Harvard University while Vincent was at MIT.  Charlie married us, and baptized our daughter.  We kept in touch with him over the years because even when he was at universities in California and New York, or stationed in Central America, he would often visit his sister in Massachusetts.  Charlie died in 2010.

Our visit included a stop at the alumni office where they asked Vincent to update his profile on their computer.  This included current address, contact information, job history, where he went to college, degrees and other interesting questions. The staff at the office pulled out his old yearbook, and we had a good laugh looking at the photos and found a few more photos of Charlie Bierne. Not every school has an alumni office, but it reminded me that asking for school records would be a great genealogical resource.  I don't know if our descendants would think of looking for Vincent's high school in Puerto Rico, so hopefully someone in the future has access to my files!

My daughter and my nephew have both worked in development and alumni relations at colleges, including Simmons College, MIT, the Boston Conservatory and the Boston Architectural College.  They tell me that these institutions of higher learning keep meticulous files on alumni, and hire researchers to write biographies and investigate possible donors.  What a genealogical goldmine! Your high school may have similar, but smaller, archives.

Here are two stories on searching college records I have written in the past using college archive resources:

Caroline Wilkinson, Simmons College Class of 1907

Good old college days

This poster of Charlie was inside the alumni office

Charlie at our wedding in Holden, Massachusetts

For the truly curious:

The Collegio San Ignacio de Loyola website

A short wikipedia article for Collegio San Ignacio de Loyola

A wikipedia article about Father Charles Bierne (and a funny story about how he was sent to Puerto Rico by accident and became the principal at San Ignacio)


Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Vincent's visit to his old prep school", Nutfield Genealogy, posted March 3, 2016, (  accessed [access date]).

1 comment:

  1. It's alaays interesting to visit the Alma Mater. I actually worked at mine for a time, it was a surreal experience.