History of the Past Pupils' Association
On Presentation Day 1912, the Past Pupils' Association was officially launched. It was also a celebration of the new hall, the 1911 red brick building with the stone stairs, and the silver jubilee of the then Superior, Mother Ita Cagney. In addition to the 300 old collegians who attended, there were many other friends from "professional, cultural and social life", including a Doctor of Laws, T.P. McInerney, Warden of the University of Melbourne (Mother Evangelist's brother), Dr. Mary Glowrey, later renowned for her medical work in India, Nellie Billings, a talented pianist, Edith Richardson, soprano and Gertrude Johnson, later Director of the National Theatre. Marion Miller Knowles, social editor of The Advocate, described the function as "a musical and intellectual treat".
The Association has waxed and waned, but has always been operative. Until the 1960s it provided a significant social network and the centenary year 1973/74 prompted a strong response. At the Annual General Meeting held in about March, elections were serious business. Nominations and voting followed strict procedures. On at least two occasions, equal votes for President meant that the two women concerned left the room while the large assembly held the final ballot. The second meeting of the year for past pupils was purely social and always associated with Presentation Day in November. This is the single feature that has been maintained with unbroken continuity. Retreat Day was a mid year event, and tennis teams played regularly in old collegial tournaments. For years, including the period during which Physical Culture and Deportment teacher Miss Carre 'reigned', the Debutante Ball was an annual affair.
Recently Class Reunions have peaked in popularity and are most enjoyable, mainly because everyone knows everyone else. The core committee, however, continues to be essential as a reliable reference point. A similar group has maintained contact among those women resident in Sydney. Entre Nous, the Past Pupil's magazine which was first published in the early 1900s has bloomed, faded and bloomed again several times, since its inception, but, has always linked past pupils and their stories.
Mary Kavanagh (Rosaria) pbvm