Following Jenkins’ departure, Rev Evelyn Holdsworth Strugnell became acting headmaster and there was community hope that Box Hill Grammar’s fortunes could turn around.
During C.F Walker’s year as headmaster, enrolments had increased the roll from 16 to 56 and Box Hill was showing signs of prosperity and optimism. It was moving away from its agricultural base, and fast becoming a a residential suburb of Melbourne. Between the 1922-26, the houses and population of Box Hill had increased by 50%.
But despite this – and Strugnell’s recruitment of capable staff – the school did not flourish. The buildings were in dire need of repair and refurbishment and Strugnell was pre-occupied with trying to keep numbers viable.
Strugnell was also aware that a band of Box Hill citizens was lobbying the government for the establishment of a local high school. Fearing that Box Hill Grammar School could not survive – let alone thrive – under such competition, he offered his resignation in June 1928. At the same time, the Board of Health inspected the school’s ageing premises in Rose St and ordered that it be closed at the end of the year.
So began a rescue plan – and new direction – for Box Hill Grammar School.