The school marks a century of education

In 1988 the school, Johannesburg’s oldest (and just two years short of the age of the city itself), marks its centenary with a Patronal Festival, dinners and various enjoyable functions. A broad spectrum of the St Mary’s community, past and present, joins in the festivities.

The Parents’ Teachers' Association has raised money to pave the parking area off Burn Street and to plant indigenous trees; it also gifts the wrought iron gates in Burn Street, which are in memory of Miss Darke, headmistress from 1930 to 1940. The Old Girls make a present of the beautiful stained glass rose window for the chapel.

Mrs Pitt writes that “in celebrating our centenary, we should not lay undue weight on this, our hundredth year as a magic year, different from the preceding or succeeding years. We are in fact celebrating each of the years that have led to this one. The school has counted out these years in effort and achievement, in triumph and uncertainty, in fear and hope.

“We have chosen to single out 1988 as a milestone in our march of history, as a looking back to see how far we have come, and as a looking forward to see what must still be done. In looking back we honour the many who have been involved in the school’s development from its uncertain infancy in 1888, through the vagaries of its adolescence, to the thriving member of society it is today.

“For our founders in 1888, the establishment of a school for young ladies, based on Christian principles in a sprawling gold rush town, must have represented an astonishing leap of faith, and they could not have predicted the future shape of their creation any more than we can predict its ultimate shape in a future whose pattern is not clear to many of us.

“But in 1988, as we and our predecessors gaze at one another across the intervening years with mixed understanding, we know that there is one abiding principle that we share, that education is the most vital investment for the future.

“Human institutions change organically according to environment, but the values handed down to us must not change – those of compassion, humility and independent thinking. These values and the traditions of community service and responsibility are unwavering, and we are prepared for a leap of faith as profound as that made in the first small classroom in Jeppestown in 1888.”

Centenary dinner

Nancy Wamsley, headmistress from 1963 to 1972, enjoys the centenary dinner

Centenary magazine cover

Centenary magazine cover

Frances howard with mrs pitt and mrs rossouw celebrating the centenary

Frances Howard with Mrs Pitt and Mrs Rossouw celebrating the centenary

Mrs pitt bishop duncan buchanan and mrs rossouw cut the centenary cake

Mrs Pitt, Bishop Duncan Buchanan and Mrs Rossouw cut the centenary cake

Recording the centenary patronal festival in the magazine

Recording the centenary Patronal Festival in the magazine

Sisters hilda kathleen and christiana with old girl mary tait smuts celebrating the centenary

Sisters Hilda Kathleen and Christiana with old girl, Mary Tait (Smuts) celebrating the centenary

The beautiful rose window for the chapel Y the gift from the old girls

The beautiful rose window for the chapel - the gift from the Old Girls

The burn street car park looking a little more established

The Burn Street car park looking a little more established

The junior school centenary mural

The Junior School centenary mural

The paved parking Y another pta centenary gift

The paved parking - another PTA centenary gift

The wrought iron gates the centenary gift in memory of miss darke given by the pta

The wrought iron gates, the centenary gift in memory of Miss Darke, given by the PTA