Ascham celebrated its 130th Anniversary with a special Founder’s Day Assembly in May, inviting many special guests who have helped shape Ascham School over the decades.
Saturday 20 August 2016 saw the culmination of the School’s 130th birthday celebrations, as well as the official opening of Ascham’s new Centre for the Sciences.
For the second time in the School’s history, a male was appointed as the head of the School. Mr Andrew Powell had taught Science at Ascham for 21 years, having started as a Science teacher in 1993, before becoming Deputy Head of Science two years later. He was made a member of the Senior Management Team in 2004 and was appointed to Deputy Head of School in 2012, a position he served in for two years before being appointed as Head of School.
Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) was offered as an HSC subject.
Senior School class names were changed from Form to Year.
The Composer-in-Residence program was initiated.
Held on the last day of Term 2, the reintroduction of Founder’s Day was in keeping with Mr Carter’s introduction of Founder’s Day, in 1904 on June 6, Miss Wallis’s birthday.
Start of the Writer-in-Residence program in Senior School and first Visual Arts Department tour to New York.
Dance was introduced as an official sport.
Miss Preedy had been one of the Deputy Heads at St Paul’s Girls’ School in London before taking up the role of Headmistress at Ascham.
A Year 12 lecture series was introduced to supplement students’ academic studies and develop their general knowledge.
Hats were reintroduced to the school uniform.
After 31 years as Headmistress, Mrs Danziger retired as Headmistress of Ascham. Chinese and Drama were introduced as HSC subjects during Mrs Danziger’s final year.
Harriet Gee (1998) became the School’s second Rhodes Scholar.
The year the School celebrated 75 years of the Dalton Plan, it also celebrated Mrs Danziger’s Silver Jubilee at Ascham.
The School completed extensions to Hillingdon and its refurbished Library named for Helen Grant, former Head of Hillingdon. The extensions to Hillingdon were designed by Ascham Old Girl, Angela Kent (1978).
Old Girl, Elizabeth Stone (1990), became Ascham’s first Rhodes Scholar.
Another new sport introduced was Rowing, which Ascham girls had first enjoyed in the 1890s under Miss Wallis when they had participated in early morning rows around Garden Island.
Meanwhile, the more established sports continued to compete internationally, with Ascham Hockey touring Argentina and Chile.
In keeping with its overseas excursions, Ascham produced its first foreign language production in several years, the first in the Packer Theatre, Der Gute Mensch von Sezuan. The following year, Ascham hosted two teachers from the Beijing Experimental Middle School to teach the students Mandarin and Chinese culture.
At a local level, the inaugural Year 10 Outward Bound/Dalton Goes Bush camp was held.
Performing arts continued to grow and new student positions of Leader of Orchestra and Leader of Choir were introduced, while Dance was developed within the School.
Ascham expanded its overseas program, which included a Classics tour to Egypt, Greece and Italy; German and Japanese language students studying abroad; and Blazey Best and Cassy Diamond participating in the Choral Summer School at Eton College.
Ascham has had a strong tradition in the performing arts and can trace Music and Drama back to its earliest days. In keeping with its increasing number of School performances, the opening of the Packer Theatre heralded a new era of performance at the School.
First year of exchange program with St Paul’s Girls School, London.
The students performed in a record three musicals during the year, including co-productions with Cranbrook School and Sydney Grammar School.
Ascham French students participated in an overseas excursion to Noumea.
A film was made about the School, featuring the girls, to promote the Foundation and its goals.
Classical studies had been offered in varying forms throughout the School’s history, but in the 1970s a new Classical Studies course was introduced in Grade 6 and continued into the Senior School. Classics became a strong department at Ascham for several decades and extended into study tours abroad and Drama performances.
Mrs Rowena Danziger became the only Ascham Headmistress to be appointed from the role of Deputy Headmistress. With a Bachelor of Arts from ANU and Teachers’ College Diploma from Queensland Teachers’ Training College, Mrs Danziger had taught at both primary and secondary level, and had held senior teaching and advisory positions, including Chairman of the History Department from 1966–1971 at Milton Academy in Massachusetts.
A new Senior School Library and Science laboratories were opened.
Hats became an optional part of the school uniform.
Curriculum changes and innovations
Mrs Danziger established the Department of Modern Languages which offered French, German, Spanish and Indonesian. Asian Studies was also introduced and a Drama program established throughout the School.
Holmwood became Ascham’s fourth boarding house, accommodating dormitories upstairs and the School hospital downstairs, while Wallis House became the Bursar’s office. Boarders were allowed to wear jeans and pants at the weekend for the first time and ‘non-uniform’ when going on leave.
Miss Roberts retired at the end of the year and was succeeded by her deputy, Mrs Rowena Danziger.
Two new Houses, Street and Whitehead, were added to the existing four. They were named respectively after former long-serving Chairman of Council, Dr TR Street, and former Headmistress, Miss Dorothy Whitehead.
Softball was introduced for the first time, with 70 girls trying out for two teams.
The Ascham Association marked the official partnership of the parent body with the School, although in reality the Ascham parents had been an important part of the School since its foundation.
The Junior School Library was opened by Miss Gladys Lister, children’s author.
The school uniform was ‘modernised’ as the box-pleat tunics first introduced in the 1920s were replaced, and ‘chic berets’ were introduced in place of the felt hats.
Senior School students enjoyed their first School dance in the ballroom of Fiona.
Miss Whitehead became the first Headmistress to live in the Dower House. Located at the heart of the School between Fiona and Glenrock, it has been the Head’s residence for over 65 years. Prior to this, previous Heads lived in Glenrock.
Miss Dorothy Whitehead was educated at the University of Melbourne and served in the Women’s Army during the War, rising to the rank of Temporary Major and Assistant Controller of the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS). As Headmistress she embraced the Dalton Plan, and was an excellent administrator.
Middle School students (upper Junior School classes) moved into Fiona for the first time.
Dr Rayward studied at the University of Melbourne and had additional qualifications from universities in Paris and Munich. She had taught at various schools in Victoria and NSW before becoming Headmistress at Ascham.
The Amy Molineaux Memorial English Essay Prize, established in 1910, was published in the School magazine for the first time on the topic, ‘Democracy as a Form of Government’.
At the end of the War, Miss Bailey launched the School’s first official financial appeal to the Old Girls and sent out a printed document outlining the development of the School, starting from the early months of World War I when she became Headmistress. The Diamond Jubilee Appeal resulted in substantial donations, enabling the School to later buy two neighbouring properties in 1948, Fiona and the Dower House.
Some of the Junior boarders remained on at Redleaf, Blackheath, for an extra term into 1943.
The last boys at Ascham were recorded as enrolling in 1943.
Mr Carter visited the School 25 years after his retirement and gave an address to the girls. His essay ‘A Little National Introspection’ was published in Charivari and reflects his earlier essays on the nature of war, published in Charivari during World War I. Mr Carter died the year following his school visit.
The boarders enjoyed their annual picnic to the Royal National Park at the end of the year, before the deprivations of the War years became more pronounced.
Following Miss Bailey’s return from her overseas study tour, the Dalton Plan was expanded upon and introduced to all Senior and Upper Primary Forms.Ascham won the Tildesley Tennis Shield for the first time.There was a change in the uniform, from a navy blue skirt and white blouse, to a khaki pleated tunic.
Teacher Miss Whitfeld recorded an early inter-school sport competition, a tennis match against Abbotsleigh in 1897, which Ascham won. However, it was Mr Carter who really encouraged inter-school competitions from 1903. Ascham played Abbotsleigh, Kambala and SCEGGS in Association Cup tennis matches, against the boys’ schools in cricket and Redlands in basketball. The first known School houses were called the ‘Blues’ and the ‘Reds’, and the first recorded Athletics carnival was held in 1907.
In mid-1902, during the last few months of Miss Wallis’s time as Principal, three girls—Bessie Bundock, Cecily Lingen and Kitty Hay—established a newsletter, entitled Charivari, which loosely means a medley or hubbub of noise or activity. The oldest extant copy, dated December 1902, features drawings of both Delamere and Mount Adelaide on the coversheet. With Mr Carter’s encouragement, Charivari flourished and the first printed copy appeared in 1903. It remains the School’s annual magazine today.
After the success of both the day school and boarding school, Miss Wallis rented a third terrace house in Marathon Road to house Junior School students.
The School was initially opened in the end terrace closest to Marathon Road. After the introduction of boarders, Miss Wallis also rented the terrace next door.
The first Prizegiving was held this year and the earliest existing book prize was awarded to one of Ascham’s first nine girls, Theodora Stephen, for ‘good conduct’.