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St Dunstan’s shares their history

In 1918 on the grounds of the St Dunstan’s Anglican Church in Benoni CBD, the St Dunstan’s Memorial Diocesan School officially began its journey.

Officially founded in 1918, it brings great joy to say that St Dunstan’s School was a part of the City Times journey as much as we are a part of theirs.

A book was published by the school titled The Memorial, a History of St Dunstan’s Memorial Diocesan School.

The book records the history of the school and was written by Sandra Gous, a former learner and headmaster of St Dunstan’s who recently died.

The school gave one of these books to the City Times, where we were able to extract information about St Dunstan’s since their inception and the City Times’ involvement.

“Dr Derryck Humphriss wrote a most informative history for the 50th anniversary of the school. This was never published and exists as far as I know only in a form of carbon copy,” Gous wrote.

“Another history, full of interesting anecdotes, was written by Margaret Dearden for The Dunstonian in the year of the school’s 70th anniversary.”

Upon compiling The Memorial, Gous drew on information provided by the two writers (also deceased) and paid tribute to their contribution in the book.

Gous dedicated the book to E John Butler.

Foundation of the school
Edward Paget, then rector of St Dunstan’s, and a group of parishioners founded the school in memory of those people who had lost their lives in the Great War.
“We wanted something practical and we wanted something that would touch the life of the growing children of Benoni,” said Paget.
“We started with a school – a day school – as part of the parochial equipment. No money and no accommodation.
“A teacher rolled up and offered to join the venture, no money, no accommodation and one teacher. And then an assistant teacher ready for the venture, accommodation must be found.
“So we took the Hudson’s house across the road from the Vicarage in Woburn Avenue at a rental of £10 per month. Two teachers, accommodation, no money and no learners.”
Eventually the first learner was enrolled and on February 4, 1918, on the grounds of the St Dunstan’s Anglican Church in Benoni CBD, the St Dunstan’s Memorial Diocesan School officially began its journey.

Ernest John Butler (headmaster from 1940 to 1954)
Humphriss wrote: “The school survived largely due to the work of this man and it seems fitting to tell something of his background for he came to Benoni to fulfil an ambition – to build a private primary school where children could be taught spiritual values while they received the best basic education.”
A centenary building was opened in May 2018 in honor of Butler. Lorraine Emmett, centenary coordinator, said Butler became the headmaster of the school at one of their lowest times.
“His foresight and determination lifted the school to new heights, and undoubtedly the school owes its very existence to him,” Emmett said.The City Times wrote several articles about Butler and the development of the now private school over the years.

In recent years
The preparatory was founded in 1918, pre-school in 1990 and college in 1995.
“From the humble beginnings of one headmaster, an assistant teacher and one learner, the school has grown to a total of 1 221 learners,” said Emmett in 2018.
Initially, the school was situated in the Benoni CBD until the new land was purchased in Rynfield, where the school is currently situated.
“The college moved to its new premises in 2003, pre-school moved across the road in 2005 and in 2007 the junior preparatory left their home and moved to the new campus,” said the school’s second full-time chaplain, Joe Thompson.
“Who knows where the next 100 years will lead us, but may God be with us all as we journey together in this part of His vineyard. May He continue to lead us,” Thompson wrote.
The school in its 103rd year is headed by rectors Michael McConnachie (college) and Craig McIlrath (preparatory).

If you would like to stand a chance to win one of The Memorial, a History of St Dunstan’s Memorial Diocesan School books, keep your eyes peeled to the City Times on how to enter.


St Dunstan’s proud of its learners


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