Docco’s Diary: What has David Docwra been up to?

Posted 20 DEC 2017
Old Scholar News

David Docwra retired from St Peter's College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service, and will be fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher of business related subjects, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years. 

As the end of the year approaches and examinations are over, boys and teaching colleagues have been walking with a spring in their stride as they anticipate the long summer break. We look forward to new Headmaster, Mr Tim Browning, from Cranbrook School in Sydney, starting at the beginning of 2018. He will be the 15th Headmaster of St Peter’s College.  Morale is high and Mr Browning takes over a School that is in great shape.

Year 12 Speech Day went well and the Guest of Honour was the Governor, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC. As a young boat refugee from Vietnam, he arrived in Australia in 1977 with nothing but an invisible suitcase filled with a dream to reside in a peaceful, safe and free country and to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. During his tenure he has shown outstanding service to the community and the people of South Australia.

The generosity of so many members of our School community has been in evidence in recent days as a huge amount of food items and Christmas gifts have been collected for Anglicare at Christmas.  This is a lovely annual Saints tradition and brings hope to disadvantaged individuals and families at Christmas.

During the year I have again been going to the Junior School each week for some work with boys who have learning difficulties, in the Learning Assistance Program. Working on a one to one basis, it has been rewarding to see boys develop confidence in their reading and writing. The program relies on the support of about seventeen volunteers and is led by Ms Geraldine Waldron. Teaching is the most rewarding career of all! There is nothing as satisfying as seeing young people learn and overcome difficulties.

The Hill Wing building (next to Athelney House) is to be converted into a Music Centre over the summer holidays. After being built in 1964, it was used as part of a boarding house in the period 1965 to 2002 and has more recently been used for seven language classrooms. In adition, the Evans Theatre, on the lowest level of the Gordon Building, is being converted into classrooms over the summer break. 

In recent weeks, I have been looking at School magazines of the 1890s.  Much information about the early history of our School can be obtained from these. The first School magazine was in June 1884 and gives news on all aspects of school life including prizes, prefects, achievements of Old Scholars, cricket, football, rowing, swimming, as well as letters about the wearing of School Colours and an article written by someone who had visited the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The School magazine was produced regularly and we have the five editions produced in 1884. The sixth edition was produced in March 1885.

The old magazines record some amusing incidents such as the following story about Bishop Short.  Short House is named after Bishop Short, who is considered the main founder of our School and was the first Bishop of Adelaide. On one occasion, he came to the St Peter’s College to preach at a service for the boarders. "As he entered the service, he was followed by a large blood hound, named 'Tanner,' a dog well known to Saints boys at that time. Tanner stalked solemnly up the Church behind the Bishop, and when the Bishop knelt to pray, Tanner showed his kindly feeling by quietly licking the polished head of the Bishop, who, hardly knowing what was happening, and too frightened to move, wriggled and twisted until at last, Tanner left him, walked up to the altar, and sat in front and beat time with his fine massive tail. The boarders found the incident more diverting than the Bishop, and I am afraid they did not appreciate the full worth of the sermon that day.”

With good wishes for Christmas,

David Docwra