- Sharon O'Brien in 1991
Sharon O’Brien has worked at Visitation since 1990, assisting Dan Kerns with administrative tasks, managing correspondence, appointments and mass mailings. Her job has evolved through the years as computers (and email!) were born but Sharon’s smile in the main office has remained steady. She is one of the longest serving Visitation employees and to many a Visitation graduate, there is no Main Office without Mrs. O’Brien. Sharon takes a second here to reflect on her Visitation life.
My daughter was a junior at Visitation when I arrived, and she was not too sure about my coming to work at Visitation. She finally decided it wasn’t too bad as I was not teaching any of her friends and she could come see me to ask for money or an office campus pass. I guess Mrs. Grimaldi (the Dean of Students) trusted my judgement.
Founders Hall was simply known as the Main Building. It wasn’t called Founders Hall until after the 1993 fire and it looked totally different. The halls were all wood and, of course, there were none of the recessed lighting we have today so it was actually very dark.
One of my favorite memories was when I arrived with my daughter for her interview to become a freshman at Visitation.
The first person we met in the dark hall wanted to know where we going as I am sure we looked totally lost. It was Sr. Anne Marie and she held my daughter’s hand and made us feel so welcome as she continued to do in the years to come.
Sr. Anne Marie was part of a twosome who made headlines. Sr. Marie Louise became a celebrity because she knew so much about football. But here at Visitation she was this little nun who was raised with a lot of brothers so she was into sports. A sports analyst on Channel 9 was having a contest asking celebrities to predict the NFL wins on a given weekend. He found out about Sr. Marie Louise and she actually was filmed here at school for the TV program. Sr. Anne Marie became her publicity agent and Sr. Marie Louise became known throughout the country. She actually won the TV contest and beat out such notables as Sugar Ray Leonard to win $1,000 for the school!
When Sr. Marie Louise was turning 90, the school decided to hold a gala in her honor. Glenn Brenner, the TV Sports Analyst, came and toasted her and gave her a set of golf clubs for her present. It was very funny and a big hit!
An unbelievable event happened when a fire started on the top floor of the Main Building in the summer of 1993. As everyone was shocked and in tears, it was amazing to watch Sr. Berchmans calmly and positively talk about the school’s future even as the fire was roaring. She was inspiring and with her determination kept all the alums, parents and faculty unified to rebuild and be even better.
Not sure if I should tell this but one of the concerns from the fire was Mr. Kerns marriage license. He was getting married soon and had the license in his office when the fire started. I don’t think he ever found it as the ceiling above his office fell in during the night. He got another license and has now been married for 23 years!
The thing that has been a constant here, and the reason I keep coming to work, is the great people. Visitation is indeed filled with a real Spirit that lives not only in the classrooms, with the students and the teachers, but also, in every nook and cranny of this place, be it in the Main Office or the gym, in Mrs. Grimaldi, or Mr. Kerns, two people with whom I have worked closely. The Visitation Spirit has nourished me through the years and I feel blessed to be a part of it.