Dawn Rees

Dawn Rees

At St Margaret’s 1932-1944; School Captain

Dawn Jones (nee Rees) has spent more than half her life at St Margaret’s. Starting at the school in 1932, she graduated 6th Form in 1944. In her final year, she was School Captain, Dux and the recipient of the prestigious Old Girls’ Prize.

Having attended school during World War 2, Dawn remembers the day when Sister Mary called a special assembly to tell the girls that Singapore had fallen and that she was immediately closing the school.

When school reopened about three months later, the pupils returned to a scene of sandbags, air raid trenches and all of the windows lined with black tape. “There were two lots of zig zag trenches, one where Eton Hall now stands and one where the Arts Centre has been built. We had air raid practices almost every day. Sister Mary used to ring the bell and we had to get to our trenches and sit. We all had to have a little dilly bag attached to our uniforms in which there was a hood and cape (to disguise our white collars and sports shirts), a peg and cotton balls for ears.

During the War, Miss Kathleen Campbell-Brown, French teacher at the school, was asked by the ABC to produce a series of French and German school broadcasts. This she did using her St Margaret’s students in little plays and conversations. Dawn said, “We enjoyed this immensely.”

St Margaret’s has a long history of school sport and students were encouraged to play at least two sports per term. Dawn was captain of netball and athletics.

She recollects: “One day Sister Lois, who was very athletic and very involved in sport, asked some of us, “Can you hurdle?” We hadn’t hurdled before so she taught us how. She piled up some nearby fruit boxes, hitched up her habit and over she went.”

It was as a student at St Margaret’s that Dawn developed a passion for the French language. Kathleen Campbell-Brown had a huge impact on her life, teaching her French and English in her final year at school and at university.

At university Dawn studied English/French Honours and after graduating she was offered a position teaching at St Margaret’s where she taught French from Third Form to Twelfth Form between 1948 and 1990 when she retired.

Dawn’s other love was drama and she was very involved in the production of school musicals. She was especially proud that St Margaret’s became the first dramatic society in Australia to receive amateur acting rights to The Sound of Music.

Reflecting on her teaching career, which spanned 42 years, Dawn said: “I had many wonderful students who still keep in touch. I loved teaching because you got to know children in a different light. Each year was different and each class was different. Teaching is really a challenging and exciting profession.”

For a number of years Dawn was a committee member of the Alliance Francaise and through her role as a member of the Twelfth Night Theatre, she conducted acting classes for young professionals.

She is a former member of St Margaret’s School Council and was Patron in 2007. She continues to be an active member of the school community having spent many years volunteering alongside other past students and teachers. Her daughter Carolyn Jones also attended St Margaret’s, graduating in 1985 and was co-school captain with Lisa Ungera in her final year.