The history of St. David’s is inextricably linked with the aftermath of Minister O’Malley’s declaration of free secondary education in May 1967.
From that time on the provision of new secondary schools to service the increased numbers of second level students became the pressing problem of the day. The Annals of the Brother’s have the following entry for 1969: “At the request of His Grace, the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev. J.C. McQuaid and with the co-operation of the Parish Priest, Fr. J. Newth, the Brothers were asked to open a new secondary school for boys in the parish. A temporary prefab structure was built on the grounds of Artane School on Kilmore Rd., west of Skelly’s Lane, at a cost of £13,000 (approx.) Br. Clarke was appointed in charge, and on 1st September 1966, the new school was opened.”
The range of subjects offered in St. David’s at the time included Irish, English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Latin, Science, Commerce, Mechanical Drawing, Religion and Physical Education. In 1971 only 54 students entered first year and the number only slightly improved in the following year to 63. At the request of the staff it was decided that the school building should be upgraded. The decision to move to the old Industrial School building was crucial to the development of the school. Renovations were carried out to ensure that a wider curriculum would be available to a more viable student population. Part-time teachers were employed from the V.E.C. and paid for out of school funds, in order to provide the practical subjects that were deemed necessary by the staff. Thus emerged the underlying educational philosophy of St. David’s: the provision, by a Brother’s School, of a comprehensive curriculum serving the local community.
An immediate and dramatic rise in first year intake ensued: 1973: 166 in five classes 1974: 173 in five classes 1975: 162 in five classes 1976: 169 in five classes 1977: 169 in five classes 1978: 173 in five classes. This increase in numbers led to a corresponding increase in staff numbers and the stabilisation of first year intake meant that it was possible to introduce many more subjects to the curriculum. Science, with its related options of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, was offered to all classes. Other additions included Music, German, Engineering, Building Construction and Computer Studies.
During the recession years of the 1980’s, when class sizes were increased due to a government policy of “fiscal rectitude”, St. David’s still introduced two important educational initiatives. The Vocational Preparation and Training Programmes (VPTP) were introduced in response to the economic circumstances of the time and to help alleviate a youth unemployment crisis. VPTP 1, for those completing the Intermediate Certificate programme and VPTP 2, for those who have completed the Leaving Certificate Programme were successfully piloted and introduced. Today they have evolved into the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme and the Post Leaving Certificate Programme respectively. Work Placement is an integral element of both and an excellent placement service has evolved over the years.
St. David’s has a long and distinguished involvement in sporting activities, particularly in Athletics and Gaelic games. Many staff members have unselfishly given of their time over the years. Many past pupils of St. David’s began their sporting careers under the watchful eye of one of the many teachers who were willing to give up their free time to coach. Music, too, plays a role in the daily lives of the pupils in St. David’s. There is a long established relationship with the Artane Band, one that benefits both the school and the Band.
Many successful musicians have commenced their careers with the Band, furthering it in St. David’s and gone on to greater things. A number of musicals have been staged over the years, often these were joint productions with local girls schools. A highlight of the school calendar is the Christmas Carol Concert that has attracted large crowds. In early 1987 the Trustees made the decision to appoint a Board of Management to the School. From this time onwards the Board, comprised of representatives of the Trustees, Staff and Parents, have assisted the Principal in the running of the School. The first Board took office in 1987 and it has been succeeded every three years since.
The School building was extensively renovated during the years 1998 to 2000. Br. Tommy McDonnell oversaw these works. It was he who ensured that the work was brought to completion by his sheer drive and determination. A fire that took place in July 2000 caused extensive damage to the recently renovated school. The remedial works to repair the structural and smoke damage were completed by the summer of 2001. In August 2000 a Lay Principal was appointed to St. David’s C.B.S. for the first time. Mr. Padraic Kavanagh had the onerous responsibility of overseeing the repair work and organising the building of the school gymnasium (which opened for use in Autumn 2002). The Minister at the Department of Education and Science, Mr. Noel Dempsey, officially opened the Gymnasium on February 17th 2003.