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A Tradition of Tea: Lebanon Women’s Club Hosts High School Seniors

  • Miriam Maguire of Lebanon serves tea to Lebanon High School seniors as they file through the dining room at the Marion Carter House in Lebanon Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Maguire is a member of the Lebanon Woman's Club which hosts the girls senior class for noontime tea every year since 1962.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Miriam Maguire of Lebanon serves tea to Lebanon High School seniors as they file through the dining room at the Marion Carter House in Lebanon Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Maguire is a member of the Lebanon Woman's Club which hosts the girls senior class for noontime tea every year since 1962.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Natalie Cantlin, 18, of Lebanon talks with classmates over a buffet of tea sandwiches and cookies at the Marion Carter House in Lebanon Wednesday, April 23, 2014. The tradition of the senior tea hosted by the Lebanon Women's Club for Lebanon High School Seniors goes back to 1962. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Natalie Cantlin, 18, of Lebanon talks with classmates over a buffet of tea sandwiches and cookies at the Marion Carter House in Lebanon Wednesday, April 23, 2014. The tradition of the senior tea hosted by the Lebanon Women's Club for Lebanon High School Seniors goes back to 1962.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lyssa Wright, 18, of Lebanon, right, shares her college plans with Adele Patch of Lebanon, left, who she recognized from church, during the senior tea at Marion Carter House in Lebanon, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. The tea brings together senior citizens from the Lebanon Woman's Club and Lebanon High School seniors. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Lyssa Wright, 18, of Lebanon, right, shares her college plans with Adele Patch of Lebanon, left, who she recognized from church, during the senior tea at Marion Carter House in Lebanon, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. The tea brings together senior citizens from the Lebanon Woman's Club and Lebanon High School seniors.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mary Jane Thibodeau, of West Lebanon, left, sends off Rayne Lambert and her classmates after the Lebanon Woman's Club senior tea at the Marion Carter House Wednesday, April 23, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Mary Jane Thibodeau, of West Lebanon, left, sends off Rayne Lambert and her classmates after the Lebanon Woman's Club senior tea at the Marion Carter House Wednesday, April 23, 2014.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lebanon Woman's Club member Nancy Scouner rests in the Marion Carter House dining room after serving lunch to the girls of the Lebanon High School senior class for noontime tea in Lebanon Wednesday, April 23, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Lebanon Woman's Club member Nancy Scouner rests in the Marion Carter House dining room after serving lunch to the girls of the Lebanon High School senior class for noontime tea in Lebanon Wednesday, April 23, 2014.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Katharine Britton of Norwich speaks to Lebanon High School seniors about her path to becoming a published author at the Marion Carter House in Lebanon, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Britton was the featured speaker at the Lebanon Woman's Club annual senior tea which was attended by 75 Lebanon High School seniors. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Katharine Britton of Norwich speaks to Lebanon High School seniors about her path to becoming a published author at the Marion Carter House in Lebanon, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Britton was the featured speaker at the Lebanon Woman's Club annual senior tea which was attended by 75 Lebanon High School seniors.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Miriam Maguire of Lebanon serves tea to Lebanon High School seniors as they file through the dining room at the Marion Carter House in Lebanon Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Maguire is a member of the Lebanon Woman's Club which hosts the girls senior class for noontime tea every year since 1962.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Natalie Cantlin, 18, of Lebanon talks with classmates over a buffet of tea sandwiches and cookies at the Marion Carter House in Lebanon Wednesday, April 23, 2014. The tradition of the senior tea hosted by the Lebanon Women's Club for Lebanon High School Seniors goes back to 1962. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Lyssa Wright, 18, of Lebanon, right, shares her college plans with Adele Patch of Lebanon, left, who she recognized from church, during the senior tea at Marion Carter House in Lebanon, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. The tea brings together senior citizens from the Lebanon Woman's Club and Lebanon High School seniors. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Mary Jane Thibodeau, of West Lebanon, left, sends off Rayne Lambert and her classmates after the Lebanon Woman's Club senior tea at the Marion Carter House Wednesday, April 23, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Lebanon Woman's Club member Nancy Scouner rests in the Marion Carter House dining room after serving lunch to the girls of the Lebanon High School senior class for noontime tea in Lebanon Wednesday, April 23, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Katharine Britton of Norwich speaks to Lebanon High School seniors about her path to becoming a published author at the Marion Carter House in Lebanon, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Britton was the featured speaker at the Lebanon Woman's Club annual senior tea which was attended by 75 Lebanon High School seniors. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Lebanon — They had been hearing about it for years, but until it actually happened, last week’s Senior Tea at the Marion Carter House was something of a mystery.

There would be tea, but “that’s all we knew,” said Tamara Plomp, one of the Lebanon High School senior girls who turned out for the luncheon. “Coming in, I really didn’t know what was going to happen.”

But whatever it included, the event was clearly not to be missed.

“It’s a rite of passage,” said Rose Munsey-Kano, also a student at the high school. “You have to wait to find out what it’s like.”

The tea, sponsored by the Lebanon Women’s Club, has been an annual tradition for more than 50 years. Nearly all of the girls attend, said Nan Parsons, the school principal. “Most of their mothers went.”

The club, which has about 30 members, holds lunchtime meetings with guest speakers, both at the historic house on the Lebanon Green and local restaurants. It also awards a $500 scholarship to a Lebanon High School senior girl each year, donates money to local nonprofits and publishes a voter’s guide to Lebanon political races.

“We’re really an older group, and we’re trying to get younger people involved,” said Mary Jane Thibodeau, who at 66 is among the club’s youngest members.

This year, 79 of the school’s 85 senior girls rode across town on a school bus to spend a few hours with women three and four times their age.

The tea is a way of “keeping a contact with the younger generation” and also offers a rare opportunity for students to experience the Marion Carter House, said Thibodeau, the club’s treasurer. “A lot of these girls never had the occasion to be invited to go there, so that part of it is pretty special for them.”

It’s also a chance to dress up and mingle over a homemade lunch and a cup of Constant Comment, poured from a silver service.

“Oh boy!” one girl said, entering the ornate dining room where club members had prepared a gracious table. Balancing gold-rimmed teacups on saucers, the girls and women helped themselves to finger sandwiches with and without crusts; bright kiwi slices, strawberries and grapes; chocolate chip cookies; pastel colored M&Ms; and mixed nuts in silver dish. Then, they worked their way out to the wallpapered sitting rooms, where chairs were arranged in large circles. The delicate dishware made the journey from buffet to settee a bit daunting.

Student Megan Mason carried a crystal cup and saucer. “These are glass plates,” she said to her classmates. “We should probably be careful with them.”

After lunch, the entire group converged in the central living room to listen to guest speaker Katharine Britton, who described her journey as a writer and read from her novels Her Sister’s Shadow and Little Island.

Afterward, Britton answered questions. Student Michaela Bish asked whether she uses color to represent emotions, the way teachers say writers do. For example, would she make the curtains in a room blue if the scene were sad?

“That’s a good idea!” Britton said, drawing a laugh from the room. Then, she added that she does use symbolism. For example, she has used ivy to represent strangulation in a relationship.

A few minutes later, when the bus came to bring them back to school, the girls filed slowly out of the house, saying their goodbyes and thank yous. Munsey-Kano “loved” the luncheon. “All the food was so cute, the little sandwiches and tea,” she said. The highlight was “probably all the women, who were very sweet, very endearing.”

The admiration was mutual.

“They are beautiful,” a women’s club member said, “every one of them.”

Editors note: Those interested in joining the women’s club can contact Beverlee Merrill at 603-653-5301. Aimee Caruso can be reached at acaruso@vnews.com or 603-727-3210.