A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE COLLEGE
On 10th December 1916
in "a wilderness of shrubs and stunted trees" the foundation stones
were laid for a small school of three classrooms. Here, behind a large boarding
house that, in the next year, became their monastery, six De La Salle Brothers
began their task of educating the Catholic boys of Ashfield Parish.
The Brothers had been invited to form a school by the new Parish Priest of
Ashfield, Father Paul Cullen. He had purchased the house and land adjacent to Bethlehem College. Classes commenced in February
1917, and the first Director was Brother Benignus Patrick, a man with a
tremendous store of energy and enthusiasm. Soon, he and his small community,
and the boys of the school, were at work clearing the land, filling in wells
and planting hedges.
In mid 1917, there were one hundred boys at the College enrolled in Primary
classes, as well as in the first years of Secondary school. By 1918, with 230
pupils, it became necessary to add two classrooms.
The College became a full High School in 1924, with a small Leaving
Certificate classroom built by the Parish and a 'Science Hall' provided by the
Brothers. In 1931, during the Great Depression enrolment was 300 and it
continued to expand due to the efforts of Father Macken, who was Provincial of
the Vincentian Fathers. His efforts gave to the College a separate Primary
school in 1934 and a "tech." in 1937. This was for boys who would not
be going on to University or an office job. This two-stream system of
"pros" and "techs" continued until 1955. During this
period, the Old Boys' Association was formed in 1927, and the Mothers' Club in
In 1949, the school consisted of the 1934 and 1916 buildings and the
"tech". There were four Primary classes (3rd to 6th) and five
Secondary (one for each "Year"), of between 50 and 70 boys. Br.
Baptist, in 1949, formed the Fathers' Auxiliary to carry out maintenance.
By 1956, the number of Brothers had decreased and so Br. Cassian introduced
five lay staff. Using the "Golden Opportunity" Art Unions, Br.
Cassian, with the co operation of Father O'Reilly (Ashfield Parish Priest)
announced plans in 1960 to connect the Primary and "tech." with new
classrooms - the 1961 building.
Br. Peter McIntosh became Director in 1962 after an eleven year association
with the College, and a number of fundamental changes occurred under his six
years as Principal.
In 1963, the College became a regional school, following the reorganisation
of the Diocese. Between 1962 and 1967 the College enrolment doubled and by 1965
exceeded 1000. The main building of the College was opened, in 1966, during the
celebration of its Golden Jubilee.
The Wyndham scheme, introduced in 1962 (Year Seven) added new subjects to the
curriculum, requiring more specialist rooms, as did the new Form VI in 1967,
adding four new classes. This presented accommodation problems. So, with support
from the Parish and the Old Boys' Union, Br. Peter, in 1962, began to transform
the physical shape of the College. The old archway was demolished and used as
a base for the monastery, constructed by the Parish in 1963.
The main building followed in three stages: 1963-64 saw six classrooms,
followed in 1965 by four Science Laboratories (under Government Science Grant).
The old "Science Hall" became the Tuckshop. The old 1916 building was
also renovated by Br. Peter after several years of being unused.
Br. Michael Lynch succeeded Br. Peter in 1968, and if Br. Peter is
remembered as a remarkable builder and administrator, Br. Michael will be
remembered as one who deepened personal relationships and involvement within
the frame work provided by Br. Peter.
During the next two years Br. Michael shaped a school policy that was
designed to cultivate in each boy a personal sense of responsibility and also
to cultivate in the staff a concern for each student. To achieve this, at the
beginning of 1970, the College was divided into three distinct sections: the
Primary, Middle (Years 7-10) and Senior (Years 11 and 12). Each had its own
Principal, Students' Council and, as far as possible, staff.
In late 1972 it was announced that the Brothers were to withdraw from
Ashfield, and Ashfield became the first Catholic
High School in Australia administered by a Lay
Principal, with a lay staff, and Mr. Peter Donnan was appointed in November of
In 1981 when Peter Donnan left the College to take up a position with the Catholic
Education Office, Mr. Allan Coman was appointed as new Principal of the College.
During his six years at the College, considerable advances occurred in the area
of curriculum development so that almost half of the senior students were enrolled
in the alternative "Employment Preparation" H.S.C. As well, laboratories
were refurbished, a new Library was established and the adjoining property at
28A Bland Street was converted, in 1986, to Computer and Music Rooms.
In 1985, the College acceded to a request from the Catholic Education Office
to accommodate the Intensive Language Centre on the College property fronting
Alt St. In 1990 the buildings reverted to College usage as the Year 7
In 1988 the Primary Section of the School was closed when the students were
retained in their Parish Schools. After more than 70 years in operation, it was
a sad day when the Junior Section of the College ceased to exist.
Mr Peter McNamara was appointed Principal in 1988 and introduced a number of
innovations in the administration and curriculum of the College. In the area
of Drama, progress continued with the establishment of a Drama Centre in the
old Primary Library. Great success in particular was achieved in the Rock Eisteddfod.
The teaching of Technology and Art was greatly enhanced by the building of a
new Industrial Arts and Visual Arts Building which replaced rooms which dated
back to the commencement of the School. Finally the working environment was
enhanced greatly by the refurbishing of all classrooms. In 1992, at the end
of Term I, Mr Peter McNamara was appointed Principal of Kogarah Marist High
Mr Patrick Connor, who had been the Assistant Principal since 1985, was
appointed as the new Principal of our College. During the next five years, the
College strengthened its focus on Pastoral Care and staff accepted the
challenge of developing teaching styles to meet the needs of students with
Special Learning Difficulties. A successful, innovative Reading Programme for
Year 7 boys was established with the assistance of the young men of Years 9, 10
& 11. Whilst "Lasallian" in teaching style, it was a defining
example of Mr O'Connor's work with young people.
In 1995, De La Salle was the premier College
in Sport and students performed exceptionally well in the Higher School
Certificate. In this period, Mr O'Connor made substantial improvements to the
Learning and Recreational Environments of the College.
Mr Thomas Galea, was appointed in 1995 when Mr O'Connor moved into the
Regional Office as a consultant. Mr Galea challenged the community to achieve
excellence in all they undertook. Under Mr Galea's principalship, extensive
building and renovation work was completed. This included the addition of a new
library, covered amphitheatre and canteen. The music and science facilities
were also enhanced. Mr Galea accepted a position as the Headmaster of a College
in Alice Springs and Mr Michael Barrington
replaced him in 2002.
Since 2002, there have been significant changes made to both the curriculum
and the physical learning environment of the College. The College computer network has been improved with an upgrade
of the server and 14 interactive whiteboards. The College wireless computer network can support both pc and mac applications. In 2006 an innovative Year 7
program, called 'Excel', was introduced to assist students in their adjustment
to high school. Much of the work is based on a literacy and technology platform
which is designed to engage boys more fully in their learning.
2008 saw the completion of the five new Science laboratories and the College multi-purpose hall. An airconditioned venue capable of seating up to 1500, with a full theatrical stage light and sound system. De La Salle hosted the World Youth Day 2008 Journey of the Cross and Icon in this marvelous venue.
2010 saw the development of the 'Band on the Block', enabling students to participate in music tuition and performance in a number of ensembles and the band.
In 2011, the College looks forward to the full implementation of the student laptop program where all students will have their personal laptop.
De La Salle College is fast becoming the school of the future.