In 2019, we launched our HERstory digital archives project as a way to reconnect past pupils, engage current students and reach out to future generations.
However, the Sacred Heart story started 135 years earlier when the Mission Sisters founded the College in Hamilton East in 1884. “As a school, and also being part of the wider Waikato and Catholic community, we wanted to follow the journey of the Sisters right through to the stories of our students and staff now. Hence HERstory was born,” says Principal Catherine Gunn. “We’ve created a repository in which past and current students, teachers and their families can visit to reminisce, recollect and reconnect to their own HERstory.”
Some former students were involved with the site before its launch. The call was put out via our HERstory Facebook page to any alumni who were interested in writing their own recollections of life at Sacred Heart and four took up the baton. This included a longtime supporter: past pupil from the 70s and now Mission Sister Anne Sklenars. She says, “I am delighted to be a part of HERstory. It has been wonderful for me to be connected to so many of my classmates. There is a wonderful legacy that the students are enjoying now because of what has gone before – from the beginnings of the RNDM Sisters to the quality of students that have been a part of Sacred Heart.” English teacher and former student from the 80s Kathleen Wilson is also enjoying the site, especially introducing it to current students, “It gives them a connection to the past – they can see they’re part of something bigger.”
Now showcasing a growing number of items, HERstory acts as the living memory of our College. The digitised collection includes school magazines from 1938 onward, thousands of photos, and a handful of student memories. These are all searchable by names and dates, are able to be accessed on any device, and can be enlarged for ease of reading and viewing.
As well as continuing to digitise our school photos and interview past students, we are also working to collaborate with different learning areas within the school to encourage students to create content. For example, students interviewing past pupils and then either writing up the interview into an article for English or videoing the interview for Media Studies, then loading it onto HERstory. This way we are presenting students with a digital learning experience alongside the chance to connect with a wealth of Sacred Heart history. At the same time, alumni are offered the opportunity to reunite with their memories and give something back to the current generation.
We encourage anyone who would like to share their recollections or memorabilia of their time at Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hamilton to get in touch with us via the details below. You can also fill out the Alumni Form to receive the College’s fortnightly newsletter by email and keep up to date with HERstory, events and opportunities. As Miss Gunn expressed, “The project is an ongoing commitment to the many generations of women who have and will become part of our HERstory. Once a part, always a part of Sacred Heart.”