Fifth-generation child joins family’s Epworth tradition

2015-02-04 00:00

FAMILY loyalty to a school is not un­usual, with siblings often attending the same institution in succeeding years, but one family has taken the concept to a new level with the fifth generation enrolling this year at Epworth.

Sandy Benkenstein, of Kloof, said Epworth has become entrenched in her family’s blood. Their relationship with Epworth began in 1910 when her grandmother enrolled, and continued this year when her three-year-old granddaughter started Grade RRR at the school.

Benkenstein’s late grandmother, Fanny Crookes, started at Epworth as a boarder in 1910 and continued her education until 1916. In her matric year, she was forced to leave school when her mother died, compelling her to return to her Kloof home to take care of her younger siblings.

Thereafter, Benkenstein’s mother, Patricia Oehley, started school at Epworth in 1946 at the age of 10 and matriculated in 1952. Twenty years later, Benkenstein herself enrolled at Epworth as a boarder and finished her schooling in 1979. She was followed in 1991 by her daughter Nicola Blomeyer, whose own daughter, Abigail, has just completed her first month at Epworth.

Benkenstein’s mother and grandmother continued their involvement with the school throughout their lives, resulting in Crookes receiving an honorary life board membership.

“The school is close to all our hearts and has become a part of our family. Epworth stood out as a warm, loving and beautiful school for us,” Benkenstein said.

Nicola agreed, saying it was easy to choose a school for Abigail.

“It’s in our blood so there was no other option for us when I was choosing schools for Abigail. I get emotional just talking about it.”

She said Abigail would be at Epworth all the way through to matric, and she hopes to have a granddaughter enrol there in the future. “I even married at the Epworth Chapel. It’s almost like the school has its own soul,” she said.

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