Step back in time: Memories from our last Blackfriars girl

When Marianne Watchman graduated high school in the mid-1980s, she never imagined she was making history.

In 1986, Ms Asher, as she is now known, became one of the last two female students to study Year 12 at Blackfriars.

As Blackfriars this year welcomes two Year 12 Specialist Mathematics students from the all-girls Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, we caught up with Ms Asher to chat about her final year of school.

Along with her “bestie” Sharon Narcisi, Ms Asher joined Blackfriars’ Year 12 Business Course from the all-girls Kildare College.

In the late-1970s, Blackfriars established the course as an alternative pathway for final-year students and opened enrolments to Kildare girls. Senior female students from OLSH and St Dominic’s had previously attended Blackfriars to study Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

In 1986, Ms Asher studied Accounting – of which she was Dux of the class – Communications, Mathematics, Politics and Business Law, as well as Religion and PE.

Marianne Asher (nee Watchman), fourth from right, in her 1986 class photo.

“My sister (Jayne) had gone to Blackfriars two years earlier, when there were 15-20 girls there,” Ms Asher recalled.

“We (Sharon and I) wanted to do accounting, that business studies path. Our aim was to do accounting after school … which neither of us actually did!”

She said coming to Blackfriars as one of only two female students was an experience. In 1986, Blackfriars had more than 600 male students from Years 3-12.

“After four years of going to an all-girls school, it was weird,” she said with a laugh.

“I didn’t have any brothers … but those boys became like brothers or my cousins. We formed some good bonds.”

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The Year 12 camp was also a stand-out memory for Ms Asher – but not for the camp itself.

“Just before we were due to go on camp, I got glandular fever,” she said.

“The doctor said I would probably be sick for six weeks – and that meant Sharon would have to go on camp by herself! But I managed to get over it very quickly so Sharon didn’t have to be the only girl on camp.”

Ms Asher, who worked in banking after leaving school, said she enjoyed her Blackfriars experience.

“I actually hadn’t thought about it for years, but it was good,” she said.


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