Sans Souci Girls’ High turns 60

Sans Souci Girls’ High School is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its founding.

The school was known as Newlands Girls’ High when it opened, under principal Joan Kenyon, in 1960.

In that first year, classes were held in Greenfield House on the grounds of the Greenfield Junior School, in Molteno Road, because the school was still being built at the Sans Souci Estate.

Newlands Girls’ High became known as Sans Souci Girls’ High School once the building was completed in 1961.

Ms Kenyon was followed by Fiona Watson, Elizabeth Fullard, Charmaine Murray and Shirly Humphreys (who served as acting principal).
The current principal is Ruschda
O’Shea.

The party decorations are out, teachers have been given 60th-anniversary T-shirts and there’s a table full of memories in the school foyer, but Sans Souci is marking its diamond jubilee at one of the more difficult moments in its long history, and Ms O’Shea said they had had to limit the size of celebrations because of the impact of Covid-19.

However, while the pandemic has taken its toll on some aspects of school life, Ms O’Shea said Sans Souci had weathered the storm.

“We were scared and nervous in the beginning though we followed the safety restrictions handed down by the government and we did not have to close our school or had any Covid-19 cases amongst our teachers and pupils.”

She praised parents for their support, saying that by continuing to pay their school fees no staff had needed to be laid off.

Ms O’Shea said Sans Souci prided itself on being a school with a social conscience.

A book drive this year collected 500 books that were donated Die Duine Primary School in Lotus River; a feeding scheme helped residents of the Egoli Informal settlement; and 10 sewing machines were donated to the Waterfront Rotary Club which runs a project teaching street people how to sew.

Future plans included revamping the classrooms and buying another minibus to ferry girls to extra curricular activities, Ms O’Shea said.

“We just want to keep the school a happy place for everyone.”

Shereen Caduff, 50, who has taught at Sans Souci for 16 years, matriculated at the school in 1987.

“It was fantastic being a pupil then. I loved every moment of school,” she said. “I had fantastic teachers, and it was positive under principal Fiona Watson.

At that time, the school was an all-white institution, but it opened its doors to all races with the fall of apartheid.

“It was great coming back,” Ms Caduff said of her return to the school, this time as a teacher. “I noticed how teachers are more emotionally connected with the pupils.”

Matric pupil Taylor Classen said the school had given her a solid platform from which she could take the next steps in life.

“I have never lost motivation for academics or anything thanks to the passionate set of teachers which encouraged me to think critically and communicate effectively.”