by PETER GRACE
Three staff at Liston College in Auckland know the school more than extremely well — they have been there a combined 106 years.
Principal Chris Rooney told NZ Catholic he began at the school 38 years ago, and had been there ever since. And deputy principals John Carroll and Paul Houghton said they
have been there, respectively, for 35 and 33 years.
Mr Houghton said he actually began at the school in 1978 — 36 years ago. But he spent three years at St Bernard’s College in Lower Hutt before returning to Liston College.
Mr Rooney came from Ireland to Liston College, as a young teacher. The school was only two years old and, he told NZ Catholic, he never intended to stay as long as he has.
Since 1976, he had had many different roles, he said. And at various times there has been a change of role, and each has been a challenge.
Some people, for their career, move to get other opportunities. “I have been fortunate, I suppose, in that I have been able to do that in the framework of one school.”
He came to the school originally as a room teacher, Mr Rooney said, and ended up specialising in teaching economics and geography. But he soon moved from room teacher to teaching those subjects, and religious education.
He then became a head of department, “which gave me the opportunity to teach senior classes”. And as the school grew he became a “senior master”.
From there, he became principal in 1999.
Mr Carroll said he came from St Paul’s College to Liston College in 1979. He saw a position advertised and phoned the principal, Garry Wellsmore — who he had been to school with.
“And he said, ‘The job’s yours’. And I said, ‘No, I’m not applying for it’, and he said: ‘No, the job’s yours’, so that’s how I got here.”
Liston College then had a roll of about 380 students (now 800-plus).
“The previous year had been the first School Certificate year, and the pass rate was 93 or 94 per cent, I think, which was quite astonishing.”
There was huge pride in the school he said, something that has not changed.
Then the position of senior master was instituted, “so I became a senior master”.
Then, in 1983, Tony Sissons took a sabbatical in Rome for six months, and Br Tom Monagle became acting deputy principal — “and after a week Tom Monagle died”.
So, Mr Carroll said, he became acting principal and, after Tony Sissons returned, deputy principal.
Paul Houghton started at Liston College in 1978 as a beginning teacher. In 1996 he went to St Bernard’s, Lower Hutt, as a deputy principal. Although he loved that school and the area, he
returned to Liston College in 1999. “So I am sort of recycled,” he said.
“It was after Chris Rooney had been appointed as principal, so I came back as deputy principal.”
His only son [Andy] has been through the school, Mr Houghton said. “And [daughter] Sarah went to St Dominic’s, so Catholic education has been very close to my heart and to my wife’s heart.”
Liston College was almost new when Mr Rooney joined the staff so, on the weekend of November 1 and 2, the college will be having a number of events to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
by PETER GRACE