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 1940.

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 that year.

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 classrooms.

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 School.

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.

2011saw the College implementation of the student laptop program where all students have their personal laptop.

In 2014, Mr Stephen Kennaugh was appointed as new Principal of the College when Michael Barrington left the College to take up a position with the Catholic Education Office .

De La Salle College is fast becoming the school of the future.

 
De La Salle College Ashfield - 24 Bland St, Ashfield NSW, 2131
email: info@dlsashfield.catholic.edu.au    phone: (02) 9797 3200     fax: (02) 9797 3255
Esto Vir - "to be the best man you can be"
 
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