September 21, 2017
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Originally the first exercise of the week in a school of the Sacred Heart, Primes was the assembly of students and religious at which judgment on the previous week’s conduct, good or bad, and results of the previous week’s tests were announced. Medals for politeness, for order, and for excellence in various academic subjects were also awarded, to be worn for a particular week. But Primes was also an exercise in poise. Each class was called, formed two by two, and advanced toward what could seem an intimidating group of black-garbed nuns. After forming a semicircle in front of the religious, the class curtseyed and waited for “notes” to be read. A card imprinted Tres Bien signified “very good” in behavior; a card with Bien meant “good;” a card with Assez Bien meant “good enough,” or rather “not good enough.” If a student was not bien at all, she did not receive a card, simply an oral report of “no notes,” a judgment to be dreaded. A student was expected to answer with graciousness and dignity any comment or question of Reverend Mother. This weekly practice has been replaced with monthly/quarterly, annual assemblies.