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School Discipline and Vacations

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The gentle Sisters of Charity could be as unyielding as master sergeants, when it came to enforcing discipline in the schools. Presumably, if you could stay out of trouble when off duty, you could keep your patients out of trouble when you were at work.

Rules were many and inflexible and probies were well indoctrinated into the intricacies of hospital etiquette before they were allowed out of the classroom. A student nurse, if she ever had time to sit down, leapt to her feet in deference to - a doctor, a nun, a supervisor, an instructress, a graduate, or a senior student. Sometimes, it hardly seemed worth the effort of finding a seat in the first place.

When on duty, all nurses, even best friends, called one another by their sir names. You could work with a nurse for years and not know her Christian name.

The Age of Chivalry never penetrated the big glass doors of the Holy Cross. Student nurses were expected to defer to doctors at all time. Doctors walked into elevators first, through doors first, and, one supposes, out of the building first in case of fire. Such class restrictions may have been good for the students' immortal souls, but they were hard on their earthly tempers.

The few hard-earned privileges that a student enjoyed could be cancelled for minor infarction of rules. Late leaves were lost if uniforms weren't complete at morning inspection. (1934) They were also lost for coming into residence late, lights on after "lights-out", and being in a room not your own. (1940)

Caps could be confiscated for minor mistakes. Sleep-outs were cancelled for failing exams, late case studies and minor medication errors. (1953)


With establishment of an Honour Board in the 1950s, students were sentenced by their peers for misdemeanors. However, since the Honour Board was supervised by Sisters, the system of crime and punishment remained virtually unchanged. A new refinement, CB's, or confined to barracks, was introduced and remained in vogue throughout the '60s. Students were expelled for many reasons - inefficiency, poor class work, consistently breaking rules, unsatisfactory records on wards, marriage, pregnancy - or cutting their hair, as in the case of 1926 class.

According to the 1964 book of Rules and Regulations, a 35-page opus prepared in 1957 and revised in 1961, rules were many and punishments were rigidly enforced: smoking outside the smoking area rated a week's CB and two weeks of 9 o'clocks; indiscreet use of alcohol - one month of CB and two weeks of 9 o'clocks; washing hair after hours - two nights of 9 o'clocks; sneaking out - one month CB and one month of 9 o'clocks; "parking" on hospital grounds - two weeks of 9 o'clocks; "parking" in a car while in uniform - three weeks of 9 o'clocks.

In the 1970s, the faculty maintained discipline for the School, and 'mid-term massacre" marked the end of training for students unable to make good marks in their probie term.

Discipline for the residence was handled by the Student's Advisory Council, composed of two students from each floor, with Miss Stileman, residence director, as advisor. The council handled enforcement of residence rules for the School's final years.


Students were entitled to an annual two-week vacation from the time the School opened. By 1929, these had been increased to three weeks during their second and third years, but a 1933 student recalls that holidays were only one and two weeks during the Depression. In 1939, probies were given one week at Christmas and two weeks during their first summer, then three weeks in subsequent years, a practice that continued until the 1960's.

Of course, not all the holidays could be squeezed into the summer months, so, many a student drew her three weeks in early spring - and spent them snowbound at home on the farm. It wasn't ideal for sun tanning, but any change from Holy Cross routine was welcome.

Holidays were four weeks' long in 1968, eight in 1970 and scheduled in the summer months only. By the time the School closed in 1979, students enjoyed a twelve-week summer break.

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