HISTORY

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Those of us who work here, consider ourselves most fortunate to be part of the fine tradition which was initiated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Huenfeld and then put into action by the Franciscan Sisters of Nonnenwerth. They started the Hohere Tochterscule (the Girl's High School) in 1906 and enrolled 7 girls. The Sisters persevered and sacrificed much to keep the school going, especially during the First World War. Despite all their difficulties, the school's enrolment had increased from 7 to 125 by 1919. By this time the school had gained an outstanding reputation for both academic as well as cultural excellence. However, the Franciscan Sisters,after a great deal of deliberation, decided to withdraw from the school because of the many problems that were experienced. 27 Sisters had come to South West Africa but not all went home - some of them are buried here.

The search was on to find an organisation to take over the school and fortunately, Monsignor Meysing and Father Arnold heard about the Holy Cross Sisters who had started schools in Cape Town, George and Aliwal North. They traveled to South Africa and were able to persuade the Mother Vicar, Theresia Naegeli of the Holy Cross Sisters, to send two Sisters to Windhoek, for one year only. Sister Pia and Sister Gertrudis arrived in Windhoek in 1921 and the rest is history. Needless to say, the two Sisters remained much longer than they were supposed to, so with the aid of a subsidy of DM 10 000.00 from the German Government and with more Sisters, the foundations of a new school were laid in 1926.

The German Government continued to support the school throughout the 1920s and 30s, helping to build a swimming pool in 1936, a new kitchen in 1937 and 3 new classrooms and a dormitory for small girls in 1938. But with the outbreak of the Second World War, all of South West Africa was placed under martial law and all public buildings placed in the hands of the South African Police. For the second time in less than 40 years, no Sisters were allowed to come from Germany and no material help came from overseas.

After the war, the school continued to grow and in 1951 the school was registered with the Education Department as the 'Holy Cross Convent School' for the first time, with English as its medium of instruction. By 1954 a brand new building was erected to accommodate 364 pupils. The building included a new hall, senior dormitory, toilets, bathrooms as well as a brand new gymnasium. The school enjoyed enormous all round success in many fields during the 50s and 60s - e.g. in 1960, the girls achieved 100% pass rate at Matric and JC. During the 60s the first lay teachers were employed, due to a shortage of Sisters.

During the 70s the school went through another very difficult but exhilarating period. Bishop Koppmann informed the Director of Education that as from January 1977, the Catholic Church would open her educational institutions to all population groups. The Education Department responded by withdrawing its subsidy to the school. This punitive measure could have led to the closure of the school, but German Catholics made up the loss by donating R15 000.00 annually to the school. Both St Paul's and the Holy Cross Convent schools were excluded from participating in sports and cultural activities.

During the 80s the school was registered once more, but this time with the Department of National Education. Since then, the school has received a termly subsidy. Then in 1985, the school closed its high school section, created a pre-school and started to phase out its German stream. Since Namibian independence, the primary school has gone from strength to strength and at present there are 472 children enrolled here.

It is obvious from the above, that this school has survived to the present time with its wonderful reputation intact, only through the dedication , commitment, sacrifice and sheer endurance of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. They have breathed, suffered, prayed and lived their motto and ethos - IN CRUCE SALUS - IN THE CROSS IS SALVATION. Those of us who follow, cannot hope to fill the shoes of the Sisters, but we can continue their dream of providing quality, but affordable education, to as many children as possible.

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