School ushers in a new age

2019-03-06 06:01
Representing their houses are (back from left) Taylan Mornet, Nicole Faulha, Skyla Snyman; with (middle from left) Nokwethemba Phakathi­, Jocelyn Finnie, and Kaden Schnoor; and (front from left) Lindelwa Zuma, and Joelle Botha

Representing their houses are (back from left) Taylan Mornet, Nicole Faulha, Skyla Snyman; with (middle from left) Nokwethemba Phakathi­, Jocelyn Finnie, and Kaden Schnoor; and (front from left) Lindelwa Zuma, and Joelle Botha

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PIETERMARITZBURG Girls’ High School (GHS) has officially renamed its school houses with most pupils, staff and alumni voting for the new names to be those of gemstones.

About six years ago, a history teacher at GHS proposed that the house names be changed based on the history associated with some of the people after whom the houses had been named. In time, this proposal gained momentum among learners, groups of parents and alumni.

Last August, a newsletter was sent out informing the wider GHS community of the intention to change the house names. This was followed by an interactive online survey in which interested parties could put forward their suggestions for a new set of names.

“We were so encouraged by the overwhelming support for this initiative from the GHS community, and we were really appreciative of the suggestions and motivations that were submitted by learners, alumni, staff and parents,” said Catherine Trodd, GHS old girl and senior deputy principal.

“As a team which is invested in meaningful change for GHS whilst being conscious of the value of the school’s past, we understood the sensitivity of this issue, and we did not want to make any hasty decisions which might have had negative long-term consequences,” she added.

It was also decided that there would be only eight Houses instead of ten. The colours green and white would not be used to represent houses in the future as they are the official school colours.

After further discussion and debate, based on the online responses, the choice was narrowed down to three groups: indigenous flora, gemstones and South African women who have made significant and positive contributions. A simple presentation was created for each category and, once again, the staff, learners and alumni were invited to indicate their preference. Gemstones emerged as the most popular choice among all three of these groups.

Hence, going forward, the House names at Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School will be as follows:

• Amethyst (mauve)

• Citrine (yellow)

• Garnet (burgundy)

• Morganite (pink)

• Ruby (red)

• Sapphire (light blue)

• Tanzanite (dark blue)

• Topaz (orange)

The current group of house captains for 2019 expressed their excitement to be the first leaders of the newly-named houses and, more importantly, to be the champions for house spirit as they take GHS forward.

“It’s a privilege and honour to be a part of the change and we are so excited to be the first captains,” said Kaden Schnoor, captain of Ruby House.

Captain of Sapphire House, Jocelyn Finnie­, said that she feels that the 2019 captains have a great responsibility this year in building house spirit and pride that will last for years to come.

The school’s principal, Andrew Graaf, said that this has been an exciting project and GHS is grateful to all who have made a contribution, saying: “It is encouraging that in the year before our centenary our school has shown itself to be open to a change that makes the school more relevant and inclusive. A healthy school is one that is able to retain some of its worthwhile traditions, while revising others to ensure it remains relevant.”

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