Brief History of Sylvania High School
by Phillip Charleston
The Beginning – Pre-1970
The story of Sylvania High School is one of endurance, at times survival, but importantly one of success. It is the story of a small school seeking to make a name for itself in the competitive environment of education in the Sutherland Shire of Southern Sydney.
The school’s origins are humble, much like the suburb itself that was to become the gateway to the Shire. Over the decades, Sylvania has changed from a mostly rural area on the edge of the bush to prime real estate in Sydney’s property boom.
Residents born at the turn of the 20th Century remember Sylvania consisted mainly of poultry farms, one of which was located on the site of the school. Later the area became government owned land. The nearby Gwawley Creek was a site for tipping rubbish which turned the area into a swamp.
When the announcement came in the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader on Wednesday 19 April, 1961 that Sylvania would be getting a new high school, many believed it would be a struggle. It would have to compete against already established and respected government high schools, with several others also due to open throughout the 1960s. This first proposal did not come to fruition and the next time a high school at Sylvania was suggested was in 1968 in response to housing development plans in Jannali and Sylvania Waters. According to Mr C. G. Meckiff, the St George Area Director for Education, the school would: “relieve the accommodation strain” on already established high schools in the area, as well as provide a school for families living in the newly developed Sylvania Waters.
Building began in 1969 with the school being based on new design concepts tested in the country, making Sylvania the first school in this new style in the metropolitan area.
Work was finished by January 1970 and under the principalship of Mr Alan White, the school opened to students at the beginning of that school year.