Week 12 – Boarding School

In 1969, I was packed off to boarding school at Stella Maris College in Geraldton. Now I was in the big league. There would have been 20-25 girls, as it was a girls only college, in my class, let alone how many there were in the whole school. If St Mary’s was daunting, then this took the cake. Everything was so regimental. We had to line up to go to breakfast, lunch and dinner, to chapel during the week and mass on Sunday’s. 

We had a school uniform, a hounds-tooth patterned, waist dress with a white collar for summer and a tunic for winter until we got a new uniform in my 2nd year there. I bet mum and dad weren’t impressed with that, having just bought the full uniform for me. We wore the uniforms everywhere, plus a hat, stocking and a blazer in winter, although we did have a jumper that we could wear either under the blazer, or instead of, but not at Sunday Mass. In all the years I spent at boarding school there was not one photo of me with my hat. I wonder why? I still dislike hats to this day. This photo shows the new uniform with the winter ‘Tom Bowler” hat.

Stella Maris boarders in winter uniform Back Row: Katie Hose, Janice Cunningham, Janet Garstin, Julie Dawson, Carmel Sears, Pauline Critch Front Row: Jenni Delane, Virginia Pirottina, Nola St John, Bernadette Oxenham, Maree Clune, Grace McAuliffe

I had learnt to play tennis when I was at St Mary’s in Northampton and continued playing into my college years. Never winning anything major, but I did like the game and played it for many years afterwards. Jenni Delane from Koorda and I played in the doubles together. We had fun if nothing else. I also continued to play basketball (netball) and was captain of one of the school teams.

Jenni Delane & Jenny Cripps on the front lawns at Stella Maris College. There are netball & tennis courts in this spot now.

The Interschool Sports Days were a big thing as we would have these against the Geraldton Senior High School and the St Patrick College boys would compete against the boys from the high school. For our own sports carnivals, I was in Green and in 1971 was the team Captain. It’s a coincidence that my grandson’s in Perth are also in green faction at their primary school. 

Peter and Bobbo were both at St Patricks College when I started at Stella Maris, but later it was just Bobbo. He would often come over on the weekend and we would hang out. I think sometimes he used me to meet some girls and bring his mates with him so they could do the same. That was ok, as I used to use him too! There were a few good looking boys over at St Pat’s!!

There was only ever one regret when I left school and that was not saying goodbye to my friends on the last day. It was the end of the school year, and we had to stay back until after the end of year concert. Our bags were all packed and we were able to go home with our parents when it finished that evening. Mum and Dad came up to the college to get my bags and decided that I should get in the car then and there and they took me back to the farm. I wasn’t in anything at the concert. I often wonder if any of the nuns noticed that I had gone missing. No one ever said.



About Jenny MacKay

Just a person who is looking forward to retirement and enjoying the golden years!
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3 Responses to Week 12 – Boarding School

  1. So much reminds me of my own boarding days in Perth although I only had 2 years away because I could complete the first 3 at NJDS. But I then never really ever went home to live and that meant the childhood was over… I missed th farm.

  2. tstatton says:

    Although you obviously enjoyed your schooling, there seems to be a slight sadness about it. Leaving home and your friends always causes a bit melancholy, but you overcame this with your sport. Obviously happier times are ahead of you and I can’t wait to read about them.

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