Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School looks back on 130 years

Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School Grade 5 pupil Georgina Bassingthwaighte and her grandmother, Lexi Slabbert, a former teacher at the school, light a candle in recognition of the school’s founding 130 years ago.

Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School principal Belinda Petersen took her pupils down memory lane on Friday last week as the school celebrated its 130th anniversary with a nod to pupils and teachers past and present.

The school was founded on January 29, 1894 in the historic Rustenburg House, which dates from the early years of the Dutch settlement. It was called Rondebosch Girls’ School when it opened in 1894, and the first principal was Alicia Bleby. By 1926, the school would officially adopt its current name. The house was declared a national monument in 1941.

Ms Petersen, who took over as principal in 2019, said 130 years was an incredible milestone in the school’s history “not just in terms of the school itself, but in terms of the historical significance of where the school is, the building and in terms of the history of our country”.

The school had evolved with the changing times, she said. “It’s learning how to exist in a diverse community with different people with different perspectives and finding a common ground around the school’s future.”

Teacher Catherine Pike, herself a former pupil of the school, led the pupils in dancing and singing at the celebration.

“I felt like it was a family here; I was at home here, and I dived into the experiences and opportunities here,” she said of her time as a pupil at the school.

“Every day in teaching is so different, and the interaction with the pupils is different, and we must have a teachable spirit as we are learning from these kids all the time.”

Music teacher Hendrik Marais has been at the school for 18 years.

“We teach the girls to make music, a lifestyle to create a love for music, so even if they choose a different career path, music will always be there,” he said.

During the ceremony, Grade 5 pupil Georgina Bassingthwaighte and her grandmother, Lexi Slabbert, a former teacher at the school, lit a candle in recognition of the school’s founding 130 years ago.

“The school has a strong ethos in teaching kindness and caring,” said Ms Slabbert.

Blackboards and books had held centre stage during her teaching career, but now her granddaughter learnt in a more modern way, she said.

“I can’t help her with much work; she will say, ‘Granny you don’t know this.’”

All the pupils and teachers who celebrated their own birthdays in the week of the school’s founding day received a birthday cheer at the front of the hall.

Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School pupils and teachers who celebrated their birthday in the week of the school’s founding day were given a birthday cheer.
Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School teachers, from left, Hendrik Marais, Diane Berry, Philippa Brinkmann, Gail Barrish Liddle, Catherine Pike, Jeanne Liss and Marilyn Sieborger.