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Assumption Convent shines a guiding light for the young

Assumption Convent School has been educating local learners since 1946.

In 1945, Fr Halloran of the Paulist Fathers, who were at that time the priests responsible for the Blessed Sacrament Parish Malvern, wrote to the superior general of the Missionary Sisters of the Assumption in Grahamstown, requesting sisters to open a school in Malvern East.

Accordingly, on January 20, 1946, Mother Brendanus, Sisters Aquin, Colombiere and Gabriel arrived.

As neither school nor convent was yet built, the sisters lived briefly with a well-known but somewhat eccentric Catholic woman, and then in the cottage of the Holy Family Sisters in Bedfordview.

Bishop D O’Leary at the laying of the foundation stone on February 2, 1947, for Assumption Convent School.

A loan was raised, and work on the school and convent began.

Initially, the school consisted of the present single storey block of four classrooms and cloakrooms.

The school opened on January 28, 1946, with 67 learners (boys and girls) and Sr Gabriel as principal.

Classes were held in the parish hall.

Each year an additional class was added so that by 1952 more accommodation was needed.

During 1953 a double storey block of eight classrooms was added.

The Assumption Convent School girls as they are today.

Once again, some classes had to be held in the hall during building operations.

Gradually other property was purchased, providing the present hockey field, and tennis courts; the site of the swimming pool was originally a netball court.

The first matric class was that of 1958.

At this time, all the teachers were sisters, with the exception of the first lay teacher, C Tilsley, who taught Standard Two (Grade Four).

Lay teachers were employed for gym, sport and speech.

In 1966 Molly Maher was employed as school secretary and continued in this role (which expanded with the years) until her untimely death in 1987.

The standard to which boys could continue at the school in Malvern East changed with the years.

The highest was Standard Six (Grade Eight) in the early 1960s.

Eventually, with the development of St Benedict’s College, it was decided not to accept boys.

The east-facing end of the double-storey block was adapted to provide a mini-hall in 2000.

Other additions and improvements continued, in particular, a very beautiful fountain in the school grounds, and the development of the grotto of Our Lady.

The first learners at Assumption Convent School in 1946.

In October 2007 the Archbishop of Johannesburg officially opened the new primary school facilities and music centre.

Almost from the beginning of the school, there was a very active Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA) and this continues to play a very important role in the organisation and running of school functions.

In 1996, 50 years after its establishment, the school was ready to run as a good Catholic school, staffed entirely by lay people.

In 1990 Chris Reed became head of the primary school, and in 1995 Neville Workman became the school principal.

Break time at Assumption Convent School in 1950.

Reed retired in 2014 and the school welcomed Debby Zambon as the new primary school principal.

In 2009 the Sisters moved out of the convent, and renovations were done to enable the mathematics and religious education departments to move into the building.

In 2010 a new, modern canteen was opened in the Sisters’ old dining room.

The beautiful new ‘Convent Hall’ was opened in January 2015 and this was also part of the upgrading of the old convent.

 

Assumption Convent schools at a glance

• 1911 – The Sisters take responsibility for St Mary’s, a primary school in which the Sisters had been involved since 1893.

• 1914 – The Sisters take over a school in North End, Port Elizabeth.

• 1914 – The Sisters take responsibility for St Augustine’s Boys’ School in central Port Elizabeth.

• 1914 – Mother Baptist McKenny takes over the responsibilities for the congregation and obtains permission to open a school in her hometown of Ballynahinch in Ireland.

• 1933 – Assumption Convent Ballynahinch opens in Ireland.

• 1934 – Assumption Convent was opened in Sydenham, Port Elizabeth.

• 1939 – Assumption Convent Maryvale was opened in Johannesburg.

• 1946 – Assumption Convent Malvern was opened.

• 1952 – Assumption Convent Pretoria North was opened.

• 1952 – Assumption Convent Durban was opened.

 

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Contact the newsroom by emailing: Melissa Hart (Editor) germistoncitynews@caxton.co.za or Leigh Hodgson (News Editor) leighh@caxton.co.za or Kgotsofalang Mashilo (journalist) kgotsofalangm@caxton.co.za

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