One of the man objectives of his Episcopacy that Bishop Stemper immediately carried out, after his consecration in 1957, was the establishment of the first Catholic School in the town of Kavieng. He appointed Rev. Charles Patrick, M.S.C. as Education Superintendent and within a very short time, (87) eighty-seven Catholic students were retrieved from the neighboring Government School, to form the nucleus of our first Mission School. The Administration, of course, was quite perturbed at this, as they now were left with a total enrolment of (38) thirty-eight. With their very fine buildings and set-up, almost vacated, they tried to persuade the Bishop, to get the Sisters to take over their school. But our Bishop was adamant, insisting on his original plan for an independent Catholic School under his auspices, and not Government controlled. In the meantime, the Mission had rented a rather large building, in the centre of Chinatown. This was to serve a dual purpose, as Convent for the Sisters and classrooms for the newly established School. Much work was expended on this project, as a number of young American Fathers willingly assisted the Bishop, at this time. It was amazing how two Chinese shops could be so attractively converted into modern classrooms and the back of the building into a cosy convent with Chapel included, to house the first M.S.C Sisters in Kavieng!
Two American Sisters form Vunapope, were appointed as teachers in this new venture. The town people of Kavieng headed by the District Commissioner, Michael Healy and his wife, Molly, were keenly interested in our endeavors and did tremendous work, on our behalf. The European, Chinese and Mixed Race people. All contributed most generously to our initial accomplishments.
The first day of school, January 26th, 1958 – saw Sister Margaret, in one class shop, with an overflow of little Prep students, First and Second Grades, who were fearful lest they would not be accepted. The other classroom was to accommodate the students from Grades 3, 4,5,6,7 & 8 with Sister Kathleen shouldering the burden. At this time our school was classified as an “Integrated School” – as all races were welcome.
The curriculum followed was the N.S.W syllabus and after Sixth Grade students were awarded scholarships for further education in Australia, if they wished. Some did not wish to go south – so Grade 7 & 8 took care of Correspondence students. Besides the formal education that took place in the classroom, a spacious field to the right of the building provided ample opportunities for sports, entertainments and other extra-curricular activities.
Sister Margaret was a talented Musician, who by conducting excellent singing choirs and renditions on the organ, contributed to the devotion and liturgical life of the Kavieng Cathedral. Sister was transferred to Lihir in 1964 and was replaced at that time by Sister Bernadette. Sister Kathleen remained at Kavieng until 1968 when she was transferred to other parts of New Ireland.
The first four years of O.L.S.H School’s existence in the humble surroundings of Chinatown came to an end in1963 when Bishop Stemper erected the first, permanent building up at the Mission, close to the church, where it stands today and continues the work of Christian Education of the young – begun by the first Bishop of Kavieng, Bishop Alfred Stemper and his pioneer sisters.
During these years the P&F Association was very active. In 1968 the first Board of Management was formed under the capable direction of Mr William Schulze-Herman, its first chairman. It was during his term of office that the three new spacious classrooms, office and storeroom were furnished with built-in cupboards and shelves. The BOM paid for the materials but our experienced and expert carpenters: Mr Pat Lam,
Mr W. Schulze-Herman and Mr Alois Yip gave generously of their time and labour. It was also at this time that the children each received his or her own individual desk and chair – 90 in all. A few years later folding doors were installed with the help of Dads who were also carpenters.
Around the end of 1974 the Education Department suggested Dual Curriculum Schools running an “A” stream (Australian curriculum) and a “T” Stream (Territory based curriculum) together. Having no Catholic “T” school in the area, this seemed a good solution for parents who could not afford the fees to send their children to an “A” school. We began with only StdI and StdP and were happy to receive two local capable teachers: Ms Lucy Kombeng and Ms Gabriella MITI, who had just graduated from Kabaleo Teachers Training College in Vunapope. These classes were being held in the then newly constructed YC HALL adjacent to the school. It was amazing how well the teachers coped in the makeshift classrooms until the new ones were built. Two classrooms, a Staffroom and another Storeroom were completed in 1975, just in time to coincide with our country’s first Independence Day Celebrations. His Lordship, Bishop A. Stemper, and the District Commissioner, Mr Ronald Tovue and other friends and visitors honoured us by officiating and attending our school programme. In 1976 Miss Pauline Luluchot, another capable teacher from Kabaleo, replaced Miss Lucy.
Since Carteret, the Government “A” school was fast dwindling in enrolment, it was decided by the Minister of Education, that this school be terminated and Our Lady of the Sacred heart School be the sole, now called International School, in the New Ireland Province. This unfortunately meant the end of our Dual Curriculum School. This seemed a providential move as European teachers were being phased out of the Primary Community Schools.
As the enrolment increased and classes became large, more teachers were needed. Former staff members; Sister M. Bernadette, Christine and Margaret returned to USA and Sister M. Jacinta were transferred to Mongop, later on Sister Jacinta went to India to open the first MSC Community there. Here she died an untimely death a few years later.
Sister M. Bernadette continued and was joined by Sister M. Cantia. However, two more teachers were needed. It was decided to turn to the Palms Organization, a Lay Missionary Organization, in Australia. They responded by sending us two very good teachers, Mr and Mrs Michael Doyle. Mike and Jenny were loved by children and parents. As Sister M. Bernadette was recalled to Vunapope at the end of the 1978 school year, Sister M. Cantia became head teacher. It was through her urging of the BOM and the parents that the once swampland bordering the school was filled in and changed into a beautifully landscaped grass frontage. With the help of Sister M. Regine for two years and the continued service of lay missionaries and volunteer teachers, Sister Cantia continued to maintain high academic standards and a well-equipped school. Inspectors and visiting officials from the International Unit of the Education Department were always pleasantly surprised to see such a modern and up-to-date school. When assessed, our school rated A1. this was possible because of the hard working efforts of the teachers with their pupils and the wonderful cooperation and assistance given by Mission personnel, parents and friends.
On the 14th November 1986, OLSH was registered as a ‘permitted school’ under section 100 of the 1983 education Act, with the special condition of ‘International School’. After this move, the government stopped funding of International Schools. This being the case, the Catholic Mission was unable to fund the operation of the school and pay the teaching staff. During this time, OLSH was faced with closure. Along with this, the MSC sisters had decided to relocate their sisters elsewhere leaving no more sisters at OLSH. During this difficult time, the Board of Management negotiated with the Catholic Mission personal to take full control of the school, increase school fees and manage the school’s finances. The bishop agreed to this and this is the current arrangement at the school.By the 1990s the Board of Management had negotiated with various volunteer groups to continue to staff the school with both expatriates and national teachers. During the 1990’s expatriate teachers Mr and Mrs Collins, Miss Peta Morris, Mr. Stephen Small and Mr. Laurie Evans all contributed to the smooth running of the school. It was at the turn of the century that OLSH has seen much growth. Under the leadership of Board Chairpersons Mrs Tibby Strickland, Mr. Leo Badcock and Mrs Rhona Lisam as well as the principalships of Mr. Kelly Wamuk, Mrs Angela Ben, Mr. Richard Hancock, Miss Elissa Gill and Mr. Greg Neville that the school has moved forward in leaps and bounds, with an enrolment of close to 260 students in 2007. Between 2002 and 2005, the Board of Management was able to build 6 double classrooms and purchase two new teachers houses. In 2004 OLSH International graduated it’s first year 8 class. Every year since grade eight began at OLSH, the school has topped New Ireland province in the year 8 National Examinations. In 2008 OLSH began year 9 with year 10 in 2010. OLSH International is widely known for providing quality and affordable private education to the people of New Ireland for 50 years. OLSH International celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2008.