The History of St. Paul School
By: Eileen Fowler
Let’s look back to see how it all came to be….
As far back as 1944, plans for a Catholic school were made under the tenure of pastor Father Pat McEvoy. Land was purchased at Garden City Rd. and Granville Avenue. Unfortunately, through the years, the wishes of the Pastor and people did not materialize. When Father William Kilty arrived in 1952, there were around 200 families in the parish, and we needed a new and bigger church. In 1958 the five acres on which our complex now stands was purchased. Under the guidance of Father Kilty, a building committee of one hundred men solicited parishioners for funds. Also due to a complete community effort, money was gathered through Bingo, dinner-dances, bazaars, bake sales, fashion shows and rummage sales. The building of the church and rectory had begun. As the plans for the parish continued to unfold the dreams of a school were realized.
September 11, 1961 was a joyous day as the doors of our school opened for the first time! There were 70 children attending in Grades 1 and 2. Each year another grade was added up to and including grade 7. For 2 years, two Sisters of St. Joseph (Toronto) commuted daily from St. Patrick’s in Vancouver to teach. It was 1963 that our convent was ready for them to take up residence. In 1963, Sister Mary Othilia (Othelia?), C.S.J. became principal. At this point in history, amenities like a library were only to be hoped and planned for, but Sister was able to do what worked, quite well. She made arrangements with the public library in Oakbridge (Oakridge?) to borrow up to 60 books per month. Over her years here, Sister Othelia was supported by an able and dedicated staff, so she was happy to see 40% of her graduating 7’s continue to attain an “A” standing throughout their entire high school years!
A design contest within the grades resulted in the school crest, still in use today. Sister Othelia was succeeded by Sister Cecilia Tallack, C.S.J. Sister Cecilia successfully trained school choirs to enter the Kiwanis Choir Festival each year. Each year they walked away with top honours. Since we were the only Catholic School in Richmond, the competing choirs were from several public schools in the district.
It was at this time that Sister wrote our school song:
We are the best in the west and we’re proud to be a part of St. Paul’s School. We’ve got the best in the west and we’re proud to be a part of St. Paul’s School. We love our colours of blue and gold; we’ll cherish our spirit while young and old. We’ll do our best with all zest and be glad to do our part for St. Paul’s School.
We all are one, we have fun and we’ll always be a part of St. Paul’s School. We all are one, we have fun and we’ll always be a part of St. Paul’s School. We’ll help each other from day to day; we’ll try to be cheerful in Christ’s own way. We’ll do our best with all zest and be glad to do our part for St. Paul’s School.
1975 – 1985
Oh, yes-Kindergarten was welcomed in 1973. Sister Cecilia was here from 1970-1975. Sr.Mary Ellen Burns, C.S.J. (1975-76) and Bernadette Robinson 1976-1977. Mrs.Georgina Smith was principal 1977-1980.
In 1977 the Missionary Sisters of Christ the King, Vancouver, came to the parish. Sister Leona Dugas was principal from 1981-1985. It was in the early eighties that, after years of negotiating with the B.C. Governments, the Federation of Independence Schools (F.I.S.A.) gained up to 49 percent, per capita, of the money that was given to public school students. The federation represented not only Catholic, but Jewish, Christian Reform and other independent church groups a monumental Christian effort! The money was designated for wages only. The smaller % grant enabled schools to adhere to the agenda put forth by the Department of Education re academics, but it protected our freedom to continue our mission to teach the whole child through development of religion, academics and the arts.
1985 – 1995
In 1985, Miss Mary Boucher became principal The staff had grown, so in addition to the classroom teachers there were specialists in each of the areas of Learning Assistance Enrichment, P.E., Music, and French. The enthusiastic staff was also involved in extracurricular activities, volleyball, basketball, swimming, track and field and computer training.
Events such as Walkathon, Pumpkin Carving at Seniors Centre, caroling at Richmond Extended care, Spring concert” Have you heard the Good News?”, crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary in May and Sports Day in June, etc., were happening. In 1986 St. Paul’s served as home base for Saint Joseph the Worker School when its buildings were in the process of construction. The friendship continues.
St. Paul’s School celebrated its 25th anniversary May 2nd and 3rd 1987. Saturday night featured founding pastor Fr. William Kilty as guest speaker. The evening featured a banquet and dancing following the formality a speeches, etc. (They kept them short, really!). The many past principals, teachers and students had a wonderful reunion. On Sunday, Archbishop Carney offered Mass at 2pm, which was followed by an informal reception, in the gym. The great amount of memorabilia displayed was enjoyed by all, as we renewed acquaintances and shared memories.
To commemorate the anniversary, the statue of St. Paul, now in the church, was purchased.
1995 – Present
Mr. Frank Dragoevitch came in as principal of St. Paul’s in 1992. In his five years here, he felt supported by a stable staff. He says and I quote: “The most enjoyable memory of St. Paul’s was the sense of community amongst the families. They were ‘family’ – they valued and cherished Catholic Education.”
Ms. Pat Delaney took over in 1997 with most of the “now staff”. In September of 2001 we celebrated this great school’s 40th Year history. In addition to a mini museum in the school foyer, we saw displays including video footage of current and not so current happenings, pictures, news clippings, trophies, and awards, etc. etc. An “I hope to…” project done by Grade 7’s, some years previous, was displayed. How great to see many of these “hopes” being realized today in 2003! Mass was celebrated at 5 p.m, followed by a dinner and dance attended by so many happy alumni. The silent auction was successful, too, as was the so-called “Fashion Show” put on by our C.W.L. Ladies. You have to see the video to know what is meant here!
Many more friends, families and alumni paid a visit on Sunday for the barbecue luncheon. Knights of Columbus and C.W.L. coordinated this. We had a small variety show in the afternoon offered by former students and present staff. The kids with painted faces left plenty to be said about the excitement and success of the moment. As we carry on the tradition of St. Paul’s, we pray to be able to continue our mission to teach the whole child through development of religion, academics and the arts. We’ll do our best!
Working together to build our future home.