St Catherine’s School was founded in the new mining town of Germiston in 1908 by the Newcastle Dominican Sisters under the leadership of Mother Rose Niland.
Mother Rose saw the need to educate the children of the miners and merchants in this growing township and took up the challenge. The aim of the Sisters was to provide a sound education for young people, based on Christian values and excellent academic standards. The school remains true to these founding principles to this day.
St Catherine’s was the first convent school on the East Rand and the first high school in Germiston. The first building was erected on property purchased from Simmer and Jack, near Rose Deep Mine, in Hardach Street. Soon the school was thriving and offered quality education to boys and girls from Grade 1 to Matric. Many leading Germiston families have had generations of children pass through St Catherine’s School.
By 1948, with the industrialization of the centre of Germiston and the movement of the urban population to the north and south of the town, St Catherine’s Convent was transferred to a new site in the attractive suburb of Parkhill Gardens. Here, a new school was erected, with spacious grounds, tennis and netball courts, soccer fields and a swimming pool.
In 1968 the school limited its intake to girls from Grade 1 to Grade 7, and boys from Grade 1 to Grade 3, and in 1970 St Catherine’s PreSchool was registered by the Transvaal Education Department.
Political events overtook the school in January 1976 when the Southern African Bishops’ Conference declared all Catholic schools to be multiracial, in keeping with the Gospel message. St Catherine’s has offered quality education to pupils of all races since then.
In May 1985 the Headmistress, Sr Alraed O’Donovan (after whom the Grade 1 and 2 wing is named), approached the Regional Prioress about the possibility of extending the school to accommodate boys up to Grade 7. The response from parents was favourable and from January 1986 St Catherine’s operated as a co-ed Preparatory School.
Towards the end of 1991 the Sisters of St Catherine’s moved into a private house, leaving many open rooms for use by a fast-developing school. New classrooms and toilet facilities were beautifully devised in what used to be the Sisters living quarters, and the school grew rapidly as parents recognized the value of quality driven independent school education.
In 1995 the adjacent property at 37 Piercy Avenue was purchased, extending the school’s grounds and making it possible to accommodate an aftercare facility.
In 1998 a meeting was held with members of the Board and teachers to discuss the possibility of St Catherine’s reintroducing a Senior School. This had long been the desire of the Board, as well as many of the parents. In May of that year a decision was made to purchase the land across the road from the school as a Senior School would require extra sport facilities. The school opened enrolment for Grade 8 pupils in 2001. This class led the group as pioneers until 2005 when they matriculated, achieving pleasing results, including a 100% pass rate.
The first phase of the new wing of the school, the Paul Hartley Wing, was opened in January 2004 to accommodate the growing Senior School. In 2006, the second phase was completed.
2008 was a very special year for St Catherine’s as we celebrated our centenary. A moving Mass was held and was attended by many members of the school family, both past and present.
In 2010 the Board of Governors approved the construction of four new classrooms to accommodate increasing enrollment. This addition has become known as the Anton Bischof wing and was occupied by the Preparatory School in 2012.
Construction also began on the new Pre-School in January 2012, and the pupils and staff moved into their attractive new school buildings in July of that year.
St Catherine’s has always been a place which has welcomed pupils of all cultures and creeds. It has been a place for pupils, teachers and parents to chat, laugh, cry and pray together. We believe that we offer a “home-away-from-home” environment, a place where academic excellence is celebrated and where potential is cherished and nurtured.
The past few years have seen a steady increase in enrollment and a new Head of School, Mr Dennis Maritz, was appointed in January 2017. Due to this growth, a decision has been made to expand the school to accommodate 800 pupils by 2022. This has necessitated the construction of an additional six classrooms, which were ready for occupation by the start of 2018. Further developments in 2019 and 2020 include the construction of a multi-purpose centre and staff room, as well as additional laboratories and a new computer centre for the Senior School.
Over a century after first opening our doors, St Catherine’s School is proud to be a thriving educational institution for the children of Germiston and its surrounding communities. We look forward to many more successful years ahead.