St Pius X Voluntary Intermediate School began, in 1960, with the purchase of six acres of land, at a cost of £5,000, by Canon Mark Quinn, Parish Priest of Magherafelt. The building of the school commenced in 1962 and opened for 300 pupils in September 1964. The Official Opening, by Cardinal Conway, took place in June 1965. Mr Edward Quinn, ably supported by the Vice Principal, Sister Immaculata Quinn, assumed the arduous role of first Principal.
Initially the pupils pursued courses leading to Junior Certificate examination level only. However, with the appointment of Mr J Murphy, who succeeded Mr Quinn as Principal in 1967, many new courses and programmes of study were soon on offer. Much success, academic and otherwise, was achieved under the very able leadership of Mr Murphy, who managed the significant growth of the school before taking early retirement in 1979.
Mr Sean O’Kane, who succeeded Mr Murphy, was an intuitive and innovative leader whose primary focus was the cultivation of a supportive culture which fostered the personal growth and enhanced the self-confidence of each member of the College community. At a time of immense educational and social change he actively engaged with a variety of initiatives and programmes culminating in the conferment of the Schools Curriculum Award in 1990.
On 25th October 1989 , St Pius X celebrated its Silver Jubilee with a Mass of Thanksgiving in The Church of The Assumption. Dean McLarnon was the chief celebrant on this memorable occasion. He was assisted by a number of local and visiting clergy, including the present Chairperson, Canon C O’Byrne, PP VF who has been closely associated with the College since its inception. Both Canon O’Byrne and Mr O’Kane worked tirelessly throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s to ensure that the school remained to the forefront of educational practice. The success enjoyed during this period is testimony to their efforts.
Opportunities to ensure that our students left as rounded citizens were embraced within the wide-ranging sporting and cultural activities offered. Much success was experienced including capturing the Rannafast, Corn na nOg, Brock and Dalton cups, while the camogie team of 1990 won the Ulster Colleges C competition.
Great enjoyment was garnered from the involvement of pupils and staff in the Drama productions of 1987 through to 1997. These events provided opportunities for the wider community to experience the exceptional qualities inherent within the school and to celebrate its success.
The rapid growth in population within the Mid-Ulster area led to a huge increase in demand for places and a ‘mobile village’ sprung up around the permanent buildings. It was not until May 1998, however, that approval was given for a major building and refurbishment programme at an initial costing of £12 million. With the eagerly awaited arrival of the major contractor, FB McKEE in March 2000, the project began.
Mr O’Kane retired in 1999, handing the leadership over to Mr F Devenny. He readily accepted the very challenging task of maintaining the College’s high standards of achievement and, while attending to the day-to-day running of the College, kept a watchful eye on the building programme. This ensured that the necessary development work to keep us to the forefront of educational practice was effected. Mr Devenny secured the full co-operation of both teaching and construction staff throughout the building programme thus ensuring the smooth running of the scheme.
During this period he steered the College to further success with the highest ever level of GCSE success being achieved in 2003. The College achieved Laureate Status in the Sharing Excellent Practice in ICT award, conferred in May 2003 and one of our teachers was awarded the BT Teaching Award for the Most Creative Use of ICT.
Great relief and pride was felt by many with the completion of the new building in June 2003. Each curriculum area within the new building has been provided with resources which are state of the art. We are particularly proud of the beautiful oratory, provided by the Trustees, which has become a place for quiet reflection and liturgical celebration for our College community.
The members of the College community are justifiably proud of the wonderful new building. Much more important, however, is the very real sense of caring which has been the hallmark of the College since its inception and the unity of purpose which pervades the corridors and classrooms.
Physically the College is fully equipped to meet the demands of the 21st Century but, as in the past, success will continue to be won through the dedication, loyalty and commitment of staff, governors, pupils and parents, indeed all those associated with the St Pius X College community.