School celebrates 145th anniversary

The class of 1958, from left, Betty Young, Lorraine Rabman, Varlene Lumb, Bette Oberaur, Brenda Shear, Fay Linder, Merle Byworth, Pamela Ritchie and the current deputy principal Alison Monnig.

It was a day filled with nostalgia, a long-standing culture of sisterhood, joy and laughter as Good Hope Seminary High School in the Gardens celebrated its 145th anniversary last Friday, September 28.

While the school has been hosting 50th-year reunions since 2013, this year the class of 1958 approached the school for their 60th reunion.

Those past pupils joined the school for the celebratory event last week.

Deputy principal Alison Monnig, who is the longest serving staff member at the school, said it has produced many strong women and they have created a sense of sisterhood between their pupils.

Ms Monnig said for the past 30 years that she has worked at the school, she has been very proud of the women who have come through their doors.

“I’ve seen so many changes, wonderful changes, it’s been 145 years of tradition, change and young women whom we’ve been so privileged to mould,” she said.

She said as long as they concentrated on values and common humanity, the future of the school was bright.

Ms Monnig said it was important for every girl in the school to tell their own stories.

“It’s so touching to see the matric class of 2018/19 and matriculants of 1958 standing shoulder to shoulder and sharing their stories and you’d imagine that 60 years in between having been through apartheid and past injustices would have divided the pupils but there’s a sisterhood that bridges that; it doesn’t matter which year you were at the school but the pupils who’ve walked in here have created a special bond,” she said.

Sharing the sentiments of Ms Monnig, the acting principal of the school Lion Linz, said they try to instil values such as confidence, creativity and compassion in their pupils.

He said while they teach specific subjects, it was important to also produce confident young women who had their own voices and could find their place in an ever-changing world.

Mr Linz said the school was completely different to what it was 60 years ago, but they embraced the change and want to contribute to the country.

“There are many challenges that the young people are facing, high youth unemployment, abuse and it’s important for us to create a safe space for them to feel valued for who they are and provide them with an opportunity to grow to be the best that they can be,” he said.

The alumnae walked around their alma mater as they shared their memories with the class of 2018. They also spoke about where life had taken them.

Sharing her memories at the school, alumna Betty Young, said she had a sad memory that stood out about the school. “I was a blonde and my teacher used to pull me out at the assembly to stand on a stage with her because she said I peroxided my hair. Shame, I loved the pupils and most teachers, but for my one teacher, I felt for a woman of her intelligence she should have given me a little bit of credit because I’m Swiss and naturally blonde” she said.

Fay Linder said they had the best education with outstanding teachers. She said they exercised a lot as it was compulsory for everyone to do sports after school. While in matric, not only did she captain for four sports at the school, but she also did exceptionally well in art.

“I think I was a big fish in a small pond and everyone liked me. I came from a poor background and art stood me in good stead in varsity and later in life. It’s the language I speak fluently,” she said.

Ms Linder went to the University of Cape Town ‘s medical school and became a doctor. She worked at Groote Schuur Hospital before going to London and working as a psychiatrist. She came back to South Africa and got married.

She said she was impressed with the way the school has developed over the years. “If the girls today can have a life that we’ve had on the basis of the good education that we got here, they will live lives of contentment,” said Ms Linder.