High School celebrates 60th

2016-02-02 06:00
Current and former pupils attended a special ceremony to celebrate Belgravia High School’s 60th anniversary last week. Pictured here are two former pupils of Belgravia High who are now teachers at the school at the ceremony held at the school. Headley King and Zain Lamara light the candles to signify the start of the anniversary celebrations.

Current and former pupils attended a special ceremony to celebrate Belgravia High School’s 60th anniversary last week. Pictured here are two former pupils of Belgravia High who are now teachers at the school at the ceremony held at the school. Headley King and Zain Lamara light the candles to signify the start of the anniversary celebrations.

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Belgravia High School celebrated its 60th anniversary during a special ceremony held at the school on Tuesday last week.

Various personalities associated with the school attended the event, where current pupils were privileged to capture a glimpse of their school’s rich history.

Established on 21 January 1957 at the old Alexander Sinton building (now Ned Doman High School) in Buckley Road under the guise of Athlone Secondary School No. 2, Belgravia High formed one of the area’s bastions during the struggle against the apartheid regime.

Only in August did Belgravia High actually obtain its name, following the school’s move to the site where it exists today.

Over the years, the school has seen nine principals lead the way.

Current principal André Buis has been a teacher at the school since 1980 and became its principal in 2011.

At the special ceremony he applauded the scores of former pupils who have returned to etch their names into the school’s legacy, while reminiscing about past achievements.

“During the 70s and 80s, the school really excelled, not just academically, but also in sports. It became a community school during the 1976 student uprising. Belgravia was central to students making themselves heard against the system of the time.

“Interestingly enough, during those years, we achieved successes in sport such as track and field.”

Buis spoke glowingly of one of the school’s academic leaders, Prof John Volmink, a former pupil himself, who regularly returns to add insight and provide encouragement to the current crop of Belgravians.

“Pupils got a chance to see quite a bit of history of the school on Tuesday through the presentations given, so that they have a better understanding of the heritage the school has,” Buis says.

Astrid van Kesteren (néé February) went on to become one of the school and area’s shining lights by going on to represent South Africa in both soccer as well as softball.

“Attending Belgravia High School has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life,” she says.

“I would definitely go back to relive those moments all over again. Thanks to all the teachers who have educated me as well as coached me to be the greatest sportswoman I can be. The school’s positivity has definitely rubbed off on me to carry on being positive and successful in life, which shows in my family, work and sports career. I wish the school all the best for the future.”

Belgravia resident and another former pupil, Remo Andrews, has also paid tribute to the role the school played in his life.

“I learnt the value of hard work at Belgravia. I recall regular lessons about our potential to be and do whatever we wanted if we put in the work. Most importantly, they made me aware of what real hard work meant. To have teachers who care about you as a person as opposed to just a student shaped who I am today.”

Andrews says the school has been at the centre of the community over the years and has provided its residents with a sense of pride.

Meanwhile, Buis says he entrusts the current generation to carry the school’s legacy to greater heights.

“We envisage Belgravia becoming a school where there is a high emphasis on Maths and Science. We are a maths and science-focused school, but we envisage to have all our pupils do Physics and Maths, so that one can be relevant to the elite of the country.

“We are grateful that we have reached this milestone and we just want to celebrate all those who came before us and their efforts and their achievements. Those are things that we need to cherish and show the younger ones the values that we stand for.

“The pupils need to take the opportunities they have, which is more than those who went before them, who have had fewer opportunities and still excelled. So there is no excuse for this generation not to take the baton and run with it.”

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