Ex-students tell stories of the past
In 2016 San Clemente students had the pleasure of interviewing three ex-pupils, two of whom attended San Clemente during World War Two and compare how different the school is now to how it originally was.
Mrs Gwen Gilbert, one of the ex-students interviewed and San Clemente’s oldest known ex-pupil jokes that "97 has a few creaks here and there". Mrs Gilbert attended the school as a boarder from Narrabri in 1922 and completed her leaving certificate in 1926, which was a rare achievement for girls in this era. Subjects studied included English, Latin, French, Botany, Mathematics, Geography and History.
Mrs Gilbert remarked that attending a school under the control of the Catholic sisters was very strict and the day students were not permitted to associate with boarders as outside information may have had a negative impact on them. Co-educational schools at this time were non-existent and San Clemente students were forewarned that if they were to speak to boys the penalty would be immediate expulsion.
Although the former students made regular comments about the strictness of the nuns, they had great respect for the Sisters. When they were out in public they were on their best behaviour as it was their duty and honour to represent San Clemente and its highly respected first principal, Mother Concepta.
A photograph of Mrs Gwen Gilbert, an ex-student, when at 4 years old she said farewell to her father before he left for the Great War, from which he returned.
Margaret Anne Davies and Sister Ann Walsh
Margaret Anne Davies and Sister Ann Walsh spoke about their experiences of school life during World War Two. The boarders were sent to an institution in Maitland, as Mayfield was considered too dangerous for the students to be permitted to board there. The students continued to attend school at Mayfield, and were obliged to carry a ‘dilly-bag’ in case of an air-raid. Dilly-bags contained emergency and first-aid items. San Clemente had built an air-raid shelter below what is now a tennis court. If an air-raid were to occur the students would take their dilly bags and race down to the shelter.
Erin Richardson and Louise Slowey