The project takes shape
A small group of twelve to fourteen parents started meeting at the Hotel San Sebastian with one clear purpose in mind: to start a new school which would offer all the advantages of the English School, but none of the inconveniences.
Parents were contacted and meetings were arranged to discuss what many believed was a hare-brained scheme. However, interest in the project started to grow, and eventually there were forty families who were willing to give it a go.
They contacted the Department of Education, who advised them how to proceed, and they also consulted the Parents' Association in the German School who had experience in the matter.
Setting up a school from scratch was a considerable challenge. It was at this early stage that Elena González Menéndez, who would prove crucial to the success of the project, joined the team.
Elena was skilled at managing, motivating, and uniting the parents, making them see that they were the key to the success of the project and that by engaging fully and selflessly in the negotiations, they could make it happen.
The project needed a name. Eventually they chose St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and made the decision to adopt the traditional green and gold colours and celebrations.
Setting up the cooperative
The cooperative came about mainly for practical reasons. As a cooperative, it was clear to everyone that the sole aim of the parents was to set up the kind of school they wanted for their own children, on a non-profit-making basis.
After considerable effort, the School Governing Board was set up in the summer of 1976. The president, Paco González Rocha, held the position for five years, by which time the school was fairly well established. While the board was responsible for buying the land, securing funding for the construction of the school, and overseeing the building work, which were all quite onerous tasks in themselves, they also had to get the school up and running.
Getting ready to open the school.
Everything had to be ready in time for the 1976/77 school year. Some of the parents were sent to visit different convent schools to see if they could rent classroom space, they even approached the Bishop to see if he could help them find suitable premises for the year.
They eventually found a large house called Villa María Teresa, in Ategorrieta, near the San Ignacio Clinic. The owner was about to move out and was willing to rent the house, allowing the new lodgers to carry any necessary renovation work.
A lot of work was needed before classes could start, because some of the original rooms were too small to use as classrooms. So as money was short, a team of parents volunteered to do the carpentry, electrical, and paint work themselves.
Enormous credit is due to the founding parents and teachers, without whose effort and enthusiasm the school would never have become what it is today. It is impossible today to imagine the precarity of the situation back then.
Teaching starts at St. Patrick’s
After all the hard work and effort of that summer, it still wasn't clear that the school would get off the ground since its success depended largely on the number of enrollments. Fortunately, there was enormous interest in the project and a very acceptable number of 305 pupils enrolled for the school's first year.
Despite the pressure to get started, standards were maintained, with the school bus and canteen services operating as normal right from the start.
It was a challenging year but the lack of resources was more than compensated for by people's enthusiasm and generosity, in fact, the enthusiasm was such that enrollments for the following year grew by more than thirty per cent.