Sharing memories of third generation CPLC experiences

Dr Elizabeth McSwiney (Perry) (1972) is a third generation student of Clarendon Presbyterian Ladies College (CPLC). Her Mother, Rita Perry (Rowland) (1945) was a boarder at CPLC, as well as her grandmother, Lilah Rowland (Embling) (1913) (dec). Together, Elizabeth and Rita bond over their memories at Clarendon and recently donated items on behalf of their family to Ballarat Clarendon College.

Items included 1908-1972 CPLC photographs, letters, OCA newsletters, Touchwood and postcards written by Miss Crump, relating to Evie Uren (Embling) (dec) (1907), Lilah Rowland (Embling) (dec) (1913), Rita Perry (Rowland) 1945) and Elizabeth McSwiney (Perry) (1972), as well as a CPLC jumper and school bag.

“Rita has a valued lifelong connection with Clarendon as did her mother, Lilah,” said Elizabeth. “This explains the treasure trove of memorabilia collected over the years by them both. Rita has taken a keen interest in the school, always devouring Touchstone or ringaroo on arrival in the mail and obviously holds memories of her school days close to her heart.”

In 1941, Rita began her five years as a boarder at CPLC in the Webster Street residence with about 30 students and teachers. In her final years, she was both Form Captain and School Probationer. Her sister, Lois Sarkady (Rowland) (1950) (dec) also attended CPLC, while her brother, Ted Rowland (1947), attended Ballarat College.

Following Rita’s time as a student, she gained her Primary Teachers’ Certificate at Ballarat Teacher’s College and her Infant Teachers’ Certificate at Melbourne Teachers’ College. In 1950, she was appointed to the Infant Department at Maffra State School.

“I enjoyed my five years at CPLC and began long friendships with many country girls,” said Rita. “In the 1940s we were like a large family. The school reunions were always special to me, having attended a few with my mother, as they kept the friendships strong. Now, after so many years, I know many of my school pals have passed away, but I keep in touch with a few younger Old Collegians who were friends of my sister Lois.”

Rita’s mother, Lilah, attended the original CPLC in Clarendon Street in 1908 while Miss Lillie Crump was Principal. Lilah was Head Prefect and Dux of Clarendon in 1913 and, after many years teaching at country schools, she returned to Clarendon to teach botany and physiology.

Having heard her mother and grandmother regal their boarding school tales as a child, Elizabeth was excited to attend the school.

“Given so many family members had close ties to the school, I excitedly took up my parents’ offer to board at Clarendon in 1970 as a grateful recipient of one of the H V Mackay scholarships,” said Elizabeth. I too have fond memories of my time at the school and have always credited the education that I received to opening the doors into my tertiary education.”

Elizabeth was Head Prefect and equal Dux in her final year at Clarendon.

After graduating, she interned at Royal Melbourne Hospital and rotated to Wangaratta District Base Hospital where she met her husband. Together, they have three daughters and currently live in Wangaratta where Elizabeth practiced as a General Practitioner for almost 40 years.

“We are blessed to now have one of our twin daughters living here with her husband, both working as paediatricians at the same local hospital as I did, but now known as Northeast Health Wangaratta,” said Elizabeth. Their three young children keep us very busy and happy in our retirement.”

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