Sister Scholastica, Old Scholar (Selwyn ’31) and a former Principal of St Peter’s Girls’ School, passed away earlier this week in Surrey, England.
Sister Scholastica was born Violet Ferris in England in 1912. Her father, The Reverend P.R. Ferris, settled the family in Adelaide in the 1920s and was Chaplain at St Peter’s College while Violet attended St Peter’s Girls’ School as a student from 1928 to 1931.
During her time at St Peter’s Girls, Violet demonstrated her sporting prowess. An excellent tennis and hockey player, and also an outstanding athlete, Violet won the school’s Senior Cup for four consecutive years and captained the intercollegiate sports team in 1931, winning the Inter-School Cup. Having been a champion runner and hurdler, she retained those skills, later earning herself the nickname, ‘Sister Athletica’, because despite the long skirt of her habit, she was often seen running and on one occasion demonstrated to students how to jump hurdles!
Shortly after finishing school as a Prefect in 1931, Violet joined the Community of the Sisters of the Church, an Anglican order founded by Mother Emily in England. The order had established schools for girls in Australian capital cities and other Commonwealth countries, including St Peter’s Girls’ School in Adelaide. Violet was given the name Scholastica, which was chosen for her by her father, and spent a decade at St Michael’s Convent near London.
In 1947, Sister Scholastica returned to St Peter’s Girls’ School as Principal until 1955. During this time, she was involved in the search for a new site for the School, then located at Kermode Street, North Adelaide, and was instrumental in purchasing the Chiverton property on which the School stands today. ‘Sister Schol’ as she was affectionately known, also led the extensive fundraising for a new ‘state-of-the-art’ classroom block, which still stands today as an attractive and functional reminder of the foresight of the Community of the Sisters of the Church.
Sister Scholastica went on to be Principal of St Michael’s Grammar School in Melbourne from 1963 to 1972, and was resolute in leading the school into more prosperous times. Later she worked as a missionary in Honiara in the Solomon Islands, where the Community of the Sisters of the Church is still strong today, and she returned to the Sisters’ House in England in 2001.
Sister Scholastica’s legacy at St Peter’s Girls has continued in the Scholastica Society, launched by the Foundation in 2013 to acknowledge those who offer a Bequest to the School. Named in her honour, the society reflects the history of the School and connects future generations while acknowledging the importance of the Community of the Sisters of the Church.
Sister Scholastica celebrated her 103rd birthday earlier this month, and her life will remain one of great achievement, dedication and inspiration for us all. A bright student, champion athlete, School Prefect and a firm but kind, quietly spoken Principal with drive and vision, she is remembered with much fondness by the St Peter’s Girls community.
Anne Daniell (nee Crisp, Kennion ’69)
Meredyth Sarah AM (nee Woods, Kilburn ’54)