History, stitch by stitch Stitch in time: Students, alumnae and staff of Maryvale Preparatory School are sewing the fabrics of their lives into a quilt for the school's 50th anniversary.

April 22, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

With swatches of school uniforms, pieces of prom dresses, bits of nuns' habits, nubs of neckties and velvet cut from aging draperies, students, alumnae and staff are creating a fabric portrait of Maryvale Preparatory School's 50 years.

When the last stitch is pulled tight, the Brooklandville girls school will have a 7-foot-by-9-foot quilt depicting its past and present. It will include the handiwork of more than 350 people -- many of whom could not thread a needle when the project started last fall.

"The quilt is Maryvale, and I'm proud of that," said Jan Boretti, one of two Maryvale mothers in charge of the project. "The quilt has a life of its own."

It will be blessed Sunday by Cardinal William H. Keeler of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore .

Opened in 1945 with 12 boarders and eight day students in grades one through 12, Maryvale now has 250 students in middle and high school. Since that first September, the school's focal point has been "the castle," a stone building that sits well back from Falls Road. A rendering of that early 20th-century structure is the focus of the quilt.

On either side of the castle block are signatures of trustees and of 16 Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the school's founders, who taught and worked at Maryvale. Around that is a border of neckties donated by students' fathers and male faculty members.

And the dozens of squares along outer borders provide a look at Maryvale life. Created with techniques ranging from freehand drawing to embroidery, the quilt includes:

An appliqued Volkswagen bug with hubcaps made from Maryvale blazer buttons by Students Against Drunk Driving.

A miniature Victorian crazy quilt by the Craft Club, whose members picked fabrics that represented themselves and their school -- swatches of the gray-and-red plaid uniform skirts, a school insignia from a gym uniform, hair ribbons and bits of a prom dress.

A replica of an L. L. Bean backpack -- a familiar sight on campus -- with the monogram "M. Vale," created by a group of middle-schoolers.

And, in the development office square, a blueprint of a proposed science and technology center.

The back, covered in muslin, carries the names of those who worked on the quilt.

The headmistress, Sister Shawn Marie Maguire, said she, too, made a few stitches in the quilt. But her role, she said, would be "utter amazement at what people were able to create.

"The number of people [involved] . . . I've been amazed by that, and that's really nice," she said.

Craft Club members each chose a piece or two of fabric to put in their group's block.

"We all sewed on our own pieces," said Sarah Hazard, who picked gold cloth to represent the anniversary and a floral print because "I like those kinds of feminine things."

"I've helped on many blocks," said 11th-grader Stephanie Cuomo, whose mother, Susan, is the co-chairwoman of the project. "It really shows unity; each club is represented."

Students said they liked the project's originality, the fact that everybody worked on it, and the sense of history it conveys.

Mrs. Boretti taught the girls basic quilting techniques and also some tricks for getting their thoughts on cloth.

Older students helped younger ones; nonsewers learned a stitch or two.

Tenth-grader Sarah Hazard considers the quilt particularly appropriate for her school: "When you think of sewing and quilting, you think of home, and that is sort of what Maryvale is."

Indeed, Maryvale's castle was the home of Dr. Walter F. Wickes and his family from about 1915 until 1945, when the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur bought 138 acres and the home, modeled after medieval Warwick Castle, for $75,000. Housed in the rambling -- and sometimes leaky -- castle, the school was first called Trinity College Preparatory School, Maryvale.

In 1950, the lower school building was added, and in 1964, the learning center that now houses the auditorium-gymnasium and most of the upper school classrooms. The last boarders left Maryvale in 1957, and the sisters decided to close the coeducational lower school in the early 1970s, leaving grades seven through 12.

In 1983, the school added sixth grade, said Sister Shawn, who has led the school for 15 years.

As part of its anniversary, Maryvale is raising money for a new technology and student activities center.

In its next 50 years, Maryvale could grow slightly, perhaps to about 300 students. But "our intention has always been to be small," said Sister Shawn.

"Our aim is to continue the mission of the sisters so that we can reach the individual student and know the individual student."

Pub Date: 4/22/96

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