Robin Connelly (Class of 1955)

Teacher in State high schools and TAFE for over twenty-two years

The school had a proud spirit – we were competitive in the sporting field, in athletics, in swimming, in cricket and Rugby League. Academic excellence was encouraged, school and government scholarships were worked for, class prizes were awarded. I am proud to have been one of the class of 1955 in which all 35 members were awarded the Leaving Certificate and twelve, I think, were awarded Commonwealth Scholarships to universities. The Brothers taught us perseverance, honesty, politeness, to think of others, to show respect for others, especially women and girls and to not seek riches at the expense of all else in life.

My entry to Marist Brothers’ Parramatta occurred almost 70 years ago when I enrolled in fourth class, with a staff of 14 dedicated Marist Brothers in a combined primary/secondary school of some 600 boys. The students came from as far away as Emu Plains, Kurrajong, Ingleburn and Glenorie for a Catholic High School education – there were many differences when compared with the sophisticated school of today. The discipline was different; we had no library, gymnasium, assembly hall or heating. We had large classes (some were over 50 in number), some were conducted on verandahs.

I was fortunate to have gained some teaching and leadership experiences while a student at school – in the Army Cadet Corps, I showed younger cadets how to assemble a Bren gun, how to march in step; in the school band, I trained younger buglers; in athletics, as a house vice-captain and as captain of a Rugby League team I gained useful knowledge. In my teaching career, I would have modelled my teaching methods on that of my own teachers. (I would suggest that fellow teacher classmates of mine would have done the same!) Despite the formal semi-aloofness of those days, I have affectionate memories of those men who gave voluntarily of their time to educate me. I was pleased to have made contact recently with three Brothers of my days of 60 years ago, namely Brother Patricius, Brother Cornelius and Brother Januarius.

We did not study music as a school subject – however, we were very active in choirs, participating in competitive eisteddfods, one in Sydney Town Hall, concerts and singing the liturgy at Mass. I still remember the words and melodies of many of the songs. The school drum and bugle band provided musical experiences for around 30 students at a time. In my teaching career and in the community I have continued the musical happenings of my school days.

The Brothers taught us the religious practices of those days mainly by way of their example in speech, behaviour and anecdotal discussion. MBHS Parramatta has had a profound influence on the lifestyle of its students

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