As the population in the Andersonstown area in the early 1960s surged, the then Parish Priest, Rev Fr Thomas Cunningham approached the De La Salle Brothers, asking them to establish a Secondary Intermediate School for the local parishes. Only 65% of the Capital cost was funded by the state, leaving £90,000 to be funded by the parishes themselves. The new La Salle Boys’ Secondary School and its sister school, St. Genevieve’s, opened their doors to their first pupils in September 1966. La Salle enrolled its first 275 students on the 5th of September 1966. The head of the school was Brother Cornelius. La Salle Secondary School became known as La Salle Boys School.
These early years coincided with the breakout of the Troubles and the school was to serve as a refugee centre for those fleeing the violence on the Lower Falls Road. The new school year in September 1969 was delayed by seven weeks as a result and these circumstances were repeated in 1972 during what was called Operation Motorman, when part of the school was occupied by the British Army. In the same year the school gymnasium was destroyed in an explosion.
The building was originally designed for 450-500 students but by the early 1980s it was approaching 1,200. Principal, Brother Dominic was forced to introduce the use of mobile classrooms which encroached on the running track and tennis courts reducing the sports facilities available to students. In 1989 the Junior students moved to the vacant Cross and Passion College building on the Glen Road. While this relieved some of the pressures on the Edenmore Drive site it presented new logistical and financial challenges associated with a split site. This supposedly short term arrangement was to last almost two decades.
After almost 40 years the old buildings were suffering from severe dilapidation. In 2005 the old senior school building on Edenmore Drive was demolished with the senior school temporarily housed in St. Genevieve’s old building, now available as they had moved to their new Trench House site in 2002.
In 2009 construction of a new building on the old Edenmore Drive site was completed. At this time it became known as De La Salle College. Before the final destruction of the old building some of the original gym floorboards were removed in order to make a display. The names of the first ever class register taken in 1966 were engraved in the wood and are still displayed in the new building.
In September 2008, after over twenty years of operating on two sites, the brand new purpose built De La Salle College was opened. It remains one of the most up to date schools in Northern Ireland with modern fully equipped classrooms, laboratories and workshops. Additional funding was secured at that time to allow a double sized sports hall to be built alongside the gymnasium and the weights and fitness rooms. Outdoor pitches at St Genevieve’s are also currently used for PE classes and extra-curricular activities.
The school also includes the chapel of St Jean Baptiste De La Salle and modern facilities for the Home Economics, Technology, Music and Drama department. In June 2014, an investment of over £200,000 was made to refresh of all C2K networked PCs.
The school now features ten suites of networked PCs and four Apple Mac suites, in addition to portable devices such as laptops, chrome books and iPads. The new building also serves as an Entertainment Venue and Multi-sports venue after school hours. The De La Salle Sports Complex operates as a private fitness and leisure provision at affordable prices for the local community.