Special year for St. John’s PS

pupils at St. John's Dernaflaw PS from years gone by.
pupils at St. John's Dernaflaw PS from years gone by.

Staff and pupils of St. John’s PS, Dernaflaw, are hoping the community will help mark a milestone in the school’s history.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the school moving to its new building and the renaming of the school as St. John’s P.S.

St. John's Dernaflaw PS is keen to hear about past pupils as part of their anniversary celebrations.

St. John's Dernaflaw PS is keen to hear about past pupils as part of their anniversary celebrations.

Principal, John McWilliams, said that according to the Public Records Office, the school opened in 1845 with the school having catered for all religions as one combined community with about 25 per cent of the pupils on roll being from the Protestant faith and the remaining 75 per cent Catholic. “However, after 1920, the Protestant enrolment decreased and eventually ceased,” noted Mr McWilliams.

During those early days, pupils came from a wide catchment area with 26 townlands represented on the school roll.

“This trend continues today with our school serving the Dernaflaw area as well as the wider parish of Dungiven,” said Mr McWilliams.

“Former principal, P. D. Holloway wrote that when he came to Dernaflaw in 1954, there were 60 pupils onthe roll and by 1960 this had risen to 125. Today our school has 138 pupils and seven teachers.

“In 1975 the school was re named ‘St. John’s P.S. Dernaflaw’ and moved to the new building across the road from the original site.

“Our school retains its family atmosphere, strong Catholic ethos, our emphasis on excellence in music and sport and our focus on enjoyable learning.”

The school will also hold a Mass in St. Patrick’s Church, Dungiven on May 12th to celebrate this anniversary. Past pupils, staff and friends will be invited and afterwards there will be a display of photographs and articles relating to the school through the years.

“We hope it will be an evening for thanksgiving and reminiscing for those who have been part of the story of St. John’s Dernaflaw,” declared Mr McWilliams.

Anyone who has photographs or articles relating to the school is urged to lend them to St John’s for a short time.

All borrowed articles/pictures will be copied (with owner’s permission) and returned. Contact the school at 028 7774 1505 or e-mail jmcwilliams679@c2kni.net