80 years strong
St Cecilia’s School was opened on 10th January 1938. There were 153 pupils. Mr Byrne was the Headteacher and there were 4 other teachers (later 5). There were 5 classrooms: 2 infant and 3 junior.
The school has always celebrated its Catholic identity and its links with other Catholic schools in the area. In September 1943 the school attended Mass at St Anthony’s for a National Day of Prayer. In June 1951 for the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, the school closed for a day trip to Climping.
Until the Church on London Road was built, the school was used as a mass centre on Sundays. During the war, Mass-goers and pupils would sometimes see “Dog fights” taking place in the sky above the school.
The school survived the war years relatively intact. It survived at least one UXB but lost windows and a few statues during mortar drops and a doodlebug which dropped in Clarkes Avenue. In 1944 the school closed for a period whilst the remaining children were evacuated.
In 1945 a concert was held at Christmas to raise funds to buy some wirelesses (radios.) In January 1954 the wooden “hut” classes were added. More “temporary” classrooms were added in the 1960s some of which are still here today and a kitchen was added to enable the children to have school dinners.
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth was marked by a trip to the Granada cinema to see a film of the ceremony. The school participated in the district sports where both the boys and girls won the Coronation Shields. (This sporting prowess has continued to the present day including winners of Borough sports, football and netball trophies!
In 1954 Mr P Flynn became Headteacher for 18 months followed by Mr O’Flanagan then Mr O’Callaghan, Mrs Rickard, Mrs Mayhew (an ex-pupil) and Mr Burke (Present head).
In the 1980s two further classrooms were added to the existing building. In 1995 these were extended by two more which linked up some of the earlier buildings. These were built over the old marble playground – so-called because children used to play marbles there. There were also times when they had dancing and dance-related games there. A nursery was also added.
A new block replaced the old huts and gave additional classes for the Year 5 and 6 pupils in 1999. Later the Learning Resource Centre was added incorporating the library and computer suite in 2002/3.
More recent celebrations have included marking National and Local anniversaries such as the 50th anniversary of VE day; retirements of various members of staff after long service e.g. Mrs Donlevy, Mrs Wayland, Mrs Fulcher, and Mrs McCarthy. Royal weddings and celebrations (silver and golden) We even had our own Olympic Torch Ceremony in 2012. Each year has seen a production or two involving, music, acting, dance and or drama. These often include staff as well as pupils. We have also had Art and DT exhibitions.
There have been many theatre groups visiting the school over the years. We also have our wonderful themed days when we all dress up (Pirates, Tudors, Romans, Ancient Greeks, Victorians, Space etc.) as well as for charity fundraising. Visits have taken place to and from pet and farm animal groups as well as the Fire and Police service.
Christmas is always a special time marked by the Nativity and carol services in the school and /or at St Cecilia’s and St Matthias churches. A special Nativity is presented at St Raphael’s Hospice. At Easter a moving service of the Stations of the Cross takes place.
There have been retreats and visits to Aylesford by the Year 6 pupils as well as outdoor pursuits at Sayers Croft for Y5 and 6 and more recently for Y6 to Marchant’s Hill and trips to Dover and Canterbury.
Visits have also taken place over the years to places such as the Snuff Mill, Bird World, Kew Gardens and to the galleries and museums in London. In 2010 a party from our school attended the mass said by Pope Benedict on his visit to England.
One of the biggest annual celebrations in our school is First Holy Communion. From the beginning, this has been a very important part of our school community celebrations. After Mass, the First Communicants have had a special breakfast (essential when they had fasted from midnight!) The rest of the school joins the celebration having biscuits and a drink of squash during playtime.
St Cecilia is the patron Saint of music; music and dance are evident in many of our activities. We have had a choir and orchestra for many years and the children participate in musical afternoons, singing, drama and dance festivals.