“No matter which way we have walked since leaving school, it is almost impossible to deny the old friendships from our St Cuthbert’s days, and the sense of familiarity we still share with girls we may not have seen for 10, 20, or 30 years.”
Lisa Bates, “President’s Report: Old Girls’ Association,” College Ties, April 2010
The roots of the Old Girls’ Association go back to an impressive 1917. By this time, several girls had left the school and current students, knowing they would soon become past pupils, approached Principal Miss Isobel Macdonald about forming an Old Girls’ Association. At her invitation, a meeting consisting of staff, Old Girls, and VI Form students was held in July 1917. There was agreement to the formation of the St Cuthbert’s Old Girls’ Association. One of the students, Beryl Jones, notes, “There was much discussion on eligibility for membership, subscriptions, and activities. The beginning of a Constitution was laid down. A committee was then elected with Miss Macdonald as President.”
A day for reconnecting with the school was an important idea emerging from discussions. It was agreed that St Cuthbert’s Day, March 20, was the perfect choice. Every year, the reunion is held on the closest day to St Cuthbert’s Day. On this day, Old Girls can attend the Old Girls’ Association AGM and the reunion and view the school.
On March 20, 1918, the first Old Girls’ Reunion was held at the school. Beryl Jones writes, “The rain came down with a will and the proposed garden party and tennis tournament had to be cancelled. However, everyone met in the hall, where they were welcomed by Miss Macdonald. A programme of music was followed by afternoon tea, served by the present girls.” The rest of the afternoon was spent dancing to the string band.
In 1920, Miss Macdonald retired from her position as president and Beryl Jones took on the role as elected Old Girls’ Association president. Beryl Jones writes, “Each successive president, with her committee, has made her special contribution in keeping the spirit alive, in building it up to its present membership…and in maintaining a high standard of community service, especially during the war years.”
In the 1920s, former pupils held an annual dance, which turned into the Debutante Ball for many decades. Its current iteration is the Graduation Ball, held in December.
The Waikato Old Girls established a branch in 1933 and now there are other Old Girls’ branches around the world who meet regularly.
In 1994, the Association decided to hold annual year-group reunions so Old Girls can meet their peers every ten years and the Old Girls’ Committee organises regular events to connect our Old Girls’ community.
The annual Coffee & Dessert evening is another event that welcomes Old Girls back to the school, in this case, those with daughters who have recently started at St Cuthbert’s.
Fundraising and acts of service continue to be an important element of the Old Girls’ Association, and the school is a living reminder of the support of the Old Girls over the many years. The Old Girls’ Association has made significant donations to Clouston Hall, the Old Girls’ Chapel, the Centennial Centre for Wellbeing, funded one of the houses at Kahunui, purchased a new chapel organ in 2018 and contributed to many other projects.
The Association also funds six scholarships for study at the school, as well as supports our Old Girls professional development through the Violet Wood Advanced Study Grant which supports postgraduate work.
The Presidential Chain is a reminder of all the links over time that make up the Old Girls’ Association leadership. Donated in 1938 by Myrta Vialoux, who had been president in 1923, the Presidential Chain is worn at the AGM. Each medallion is engraved with each president’s name, maiden name, and dates of office.
|Miss I J||Macdonald||1917-1919|
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