The History of St Catherine’s School starts when it was founded in the new Mining town of Germiston in 1908.
It was to fill the need of education for the children of the miners and merchants in this growing township that the Dominican Sisters of Newcastle, Natal, stepped in. The founding idea of the sisters was to provide a solid education based on Christian values for young people.
With this in mind, St Catherine’s Convent was founded as the first Convent on the East Rand and the first High School in Germiston. There were two other Primary Schools in the District. The first building was erected on property purchased from Simmer and Jack near Rose Deep Mine, in Hardach Street. In a short time, boys and girls were attending School from Primary level to Matric. Most of the old Germiston families have had generations of children at St Catherine’s.
By 1948, with the industrialization of the original section of Germiston, and the movement of the urban population to the South and North of the town, St Catherine’s Convent was transferred to the new site in the attractive suburb of Parkhill Gardens. Here there are fairly spacious grounds and apart from Tennis and Netball courts, and a Soccer field, there is a fine swimming pool.
Towards the end of 1968, the Convent decided, in conjunction with St Dominic’s, Boksburg, to cater for Primary pupils only – girls up to Grade 7 and the boys up to Grade 3. In addition to this, in 1970 St Catherine’s Pre-Primary School was recognized and registered by the Transvaal Education Department.
In January 1976 the Southern African Bishops’ Conference declared all Catholic schools to be multiracial, open to all races following Gospel values. St Catherine’s has had successful multiracial education from the seventies to the present day.
In May 1985, St Catherine’s Principal, Sr Aelred, approached her Regional Superior about the possibility of extending the school to accommodate boys up to Grade 7. Sr Aelred then proceeded to put forward a proposal to the parents. The response was overwhelming and as from January 1986, it was with pleasure that the Sisters and teachers of St Catherine’s opened a totally co-ed Senior Primary department.
1986 also saw seating and garden construction being done to the school’s East wing, resulting in a beautifully paved area, complete with shrubs and flowers – a definite ‘plus’ to the exterior beauty of the school.
Towards the end of 1991, the Sisters of St Catherine’s moved into a private house, leaving many open rooms for a fast-developing school. New classrooms and toilet facilities were beautifully devised in what used to be the Sisters living quarters.
In 1995 an adjacent property was purchased and this extended the school’s grounds. The dwelling house accommodates an aftercare facility.
It has long been the desire of the Board of Governors and many parents to re-open the High School. In March 1998 a meeting was held with three members of the Board, Mr Navsa, Mr Bischof and Sr Flora and all the teachers, to discuss the possibility of St Catherine’s extending to include a High School. There was a general consensus that the need was great but a survey had to go out to the parents before further discussion.
In May a decision was made to purchase the land across the road from the school. Extending to High School would require extra sports facilities. The school opened enrollment for grade eight in 2001. This group led the school as the High School Pioneers until 2005 when they were in matric, achieving pleasing results including 100% pass.
The first stage (the first floor on columns) of the new wing of the school, the Paul Hartley Wing, was opened in January 2004 to accommodate the growing high school. In 2006 the second phase (the ground floor) was completed.
2008 was a very special year for St Catherine’s as we celebrated our centenary with a very beautiful Mass, followed by activities and much catching up with old friends.
In 2010 discussions were held among the Board of Governors regarding the building of 3 new classrooms on the property of the Aftercare. As the numbers in the school increased, it was also discussed to have plans drawn up to extend the main part of the school and to build additional classrooms. The four new classrooms added to the north-east wing were completed at the end of 2011 and occupied in 2012. This wing has become known as the Anton Bischof Wing.
Construction began on the new pre-school in January 2012. The children moved into their beautiful new school in July 2012.
St Catherine’s has always been a place in which peace and harmony has stretched itself over all nations and creeds. It has been a place for pupils, teachers, and parents to chat, laugh, cry and pray together. St Catherine’s has always been seen as more of a ‘home-away-from-home’ than a school.
31 Piercy Avenue, Parkhill Gardens, Germiston
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