After Christmas activities, it is not easy to settle down to schook routine! The week-end following the re-opening, Father Murtagh kindly brought a Film of the Jubilee Mass of His Grace the Archbishop. The pictures showed the ceremonies in and outside St. Peter's Church at Winchester and Father Murtagh gave a commentary on the actions and persons. Films are always popular with junior and Senior audiences and we look forward to several each term.
In the New Year, when classes were resumed, everyone was astonished at the progress that had been made on the site of the School Hall. Doubting Thomases who prophesied that there was no possibility of the completion by March had not taken into account Reverend Mother's determination, nor the hard work of those employed on the building.
Undaunted at the thought of how much remained to be done, Reverend Mother proceeded with arrangements for the Opening Ceremony, while Mother Potter began rehearsals of the play chosen for the occasion. Producer and actors will not easily forget those early rehearsals. Not only was dramatic art exercised, but may we say so - the still finer arts, of picking one's way over debris, avoiding workmen, loose beams and wet paint!
All added to the enjoyment, and we must admit that at times the humorous side prevailed just at the most serious and dramatic parts. No props could be left on the stage or in the Hall, so there was a triumphal procession before and after each rehearsal, usually headed by the stretcher bearers. A good beginning!
Not a pleasant month. 'Flu and other epidemics proved tiresome and it was difficult to get a complete cast at the play practices.
The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes saw the School assembled at the Grotto in the garden and strains of the "Ave, Ave", re-echoed.
The opening of the Novena of Grace was chosen for Holy Childhood Day, in Corpus Christi Church. Juniors and Seniors were present for the prayers and instructions .by Father Baron, S.J. The younger children are always particularly interested in the Holy Childhood and their dear "Black Babies". White babies do not have the same appeal!
Collections from the Holy Childhood boxes in the junior and Middle Schools and the Mission Sunday Collections in the Senior School, combined to form our contribution to the Association of the Propagation of the Faith.
Staff and pupils alike were sad to hear, early in the month, that Reverend Mother General had to undergo a serious operation. Although she is rarely in Boscombe during School time, we all remember Reverend Mother General's motherly interest when she visits us and fervent prayers were offered for her recovery, We had so hoped that she would be present at the opening of the Assembly Hall, but it was evident that this would be impossible.
St. Patrick's Day. - Reverend Mother's Feast was celebrated with customary enthusiasm, although arrangements differed slightly from those of previous years. juniors and Seniors offered their wishes on March 16th. The Feast itself was a busy day. Juniors had their celebrations in the morning - three Films, followed by refreshments.
They were given a holiday in the afternoon. At noon came THE event, the Irish - English Netball Match. Each year the teams seem to show more ingenuity in the selection of costumes. When Reverend Mother, Staff and pupils had assembled in the grounds, and incidentally had been joined by Father Dennis, S.J., who had really called on business, the teams made a solemn entry. The Irish Team, wearing green paper rapes and bands and each carrying one mounted letter in green and gold, stood to attention, forming the word "IRELAND".
Then came the English roses, equally smart and perhaps more practical, in red jerseys, white skirts, shoes and socks, and waving a large( Union Jack, which was, forthwith handed over to their supporters. The Colleens' capes looked very attractive but once the game was in full swing, remnants of them were soon decorating the court. Play was keen and good, despite the excitement of players and the still more voluble enthusiasm of supporters, and the match ended in a Draw, 16 - 16. In the afternoon we were invited to Films and refreshments, which we found just as much fun as the more formal teas of ether years.
Finally, the whole school assembled in the Chapel for Benediction. Miss Gobell had prepared a new Motet with the senior choir, "Et Exaltavit ! " and they sang it fully and devoutly. After Benediction, the Hymn "Hail Glorious Saint Patrick", brought to an end another happy Feast.
March 24th was the date selected for the Children's Performance of "The Lord of Death". A feeling of delight mingled with awe seemed to grip all pupils, as they took their places in the new Hall for the first time. After the performance, Mr. Hillman and his workmen were entertained in the Hall, as Reverend Mother had arranged a Party as a token of appreciation of their lard and speedy work.
The next day, Feast of the Annunciation, our Chaplain, Father Weaver, blessed the interior of the new building. The site, as all will remember, was blessed by His Grace, the Archbishop, Bishop of Portsmouth, when he laid the Foundation Stone in June, 1954.
March 26th, the date of the official opening of the Assembly Hall, was a day of joy and satisfaction, not without a trace of sadness.
The Fund to build the Hall was inaugurated by the Past Pupil Association to mark the Golden Jubilee of Reverend Mother Mary Kelly, who died only a short time before the laying of the Foundation Stone. Her absence on this occasion was felt deeply by all. Nevertheless, nothing could overshadow the appreciation of the achievement of Reverend Mother Howe, who had striven so untiringly to attain this goal and who had personally directed the work.
Mr. Nigel Nicolson, M.P. for Bournemouth East and Christchurch, kindly consented to perform the opening ceremony. Among those present on the platform were Rev. N. Dennis, S.J., Rev. J. Baron, S.J. Councillor F. J. McInnes, K. S.G., Dr. P. McKinney, Mr. S. Childs, former Education Officer, Mrs. Lewis-Manning, Miss W. Cartwright, Miss W. Kelly, Mr. G. Sutcliffe, architect, and Mr. H. J. Hillman, builder. Together with Reverend Mother Howe, were Reverend Mother d'Alancon and Reverend Mother McEvoy and Mother Keyes. The audience included many Past Pupils and parents of present pupils.
Although the interior decoration was not complete, there was general admiration of the building, which will seat 500, and has a large stage with a Green Room behind. There is a balcony over the entrance hall and an organ on the left of the stage.
The 3rd and 4th Form Choir sang from the balcony, conducted by Miss Gobell, while Mother Pannell accompanied at the organ. Their rendering of "Brother James's Air" and of "Come Golden-hearted Spring" (Handel) preceded the addresses and official opening.
Mr. Nicholson said: "I was astonished to find that it was only in June of last year that the foundation stone was laid. I can scarcely believe it. For the speed of the completion of this building we have to thank the architect and builders as well as these who have lent moral and financial support.
I cannot tell you what pleasure it gives me to think that I have been able to play some part in overcoming the difficulties of bringing about this assembly hall.
The Mothers Superior of your Community would make excellent politicians. They stopped at nothing in their determination that this hall should be brought into being