In pursuit of excellence
Alberton High School: A History
In the early 1970s it became apparent that due to the growing number of English families in Alberton that there was a need for an English High School in Alberton. Up until this time the closest High School for English speaking learners was Germiston High School and many families sent their children to English medium boarding schools. It took a tremendous campaign by a group of involved English-speaking parents to have the province build a High School to serve the English-speaking community of Alberton.
Associated with those first moves were Mr D Harris, Mr P Stathoulis, Mrs J Poltera, Mr J Scott and Mr R Greyling and a host of others. Alberton High became the first English medium High School to serve the Alberton community in 1974.
Alberton High School opened its doors in January 1974 to about 230 learners.
The school started with nine teachers and approximately three hundred learners, with Mr Tobias as the acting principal.
For the first three weeks there were no desks and only nine chairs, which were kept in the staff room. The learner had to sit on the floor around the class room walls.
Learners of the school came mainly from Germiston High School.
At this stage there was no set uniform and learners wore the uniform of their old school. It was from this very varied uniform collection that Mr Tobias decided on our school motto “Totumex Partibus” which means “The whole is the sum of the parts”. The four houses as selected by Mr Tobias were Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto and Vulcan; which were later changed to Walker, Struben, Harrison and Robinson in the 1980's.
Alberton High School was officially opened in 1975 with Rod Conacher as the first Principal.
There was a staff of twenty eight and a learner enrolment of just on four hundred. At this stage room E3 was used as a tuckshop and the rest of the E block was unused. There were no sports fields at all and sports practices used to take place on the piece of open ground two streets down from the school.
By the start of 1975 such things as the school badge and uniform had been designed and registered and the school began to assume its own character. The late Mr I J Joubert, a former Head of Department, Educational Guidance, designed our badge. The symbolism of the elements are: Key: Knowledge, the key to life and opportunity; Eland: The school stands on what was a portion of the farm Elandsfontein; Inverted V: The arch of heaven and a striving for ideals; Waves: The waters under heaven i.e. of the fountain. The first matriculants wrote the Senior Certificate Examinations at the end of 1976 and achieved remarkably well.
During the next few years the school saw remarkable growth and touched on 1,100 learners in 1980. That was about the time Bracken High opened as the second English High School in Alberton, which took a lot of pressure off Alberton High School’s numbers and our enrolment returned to reasonable proportions.
In 1980 Mr Conacher was succeeded by Mr Gerald Kallman. After 14 years in the ‘hot seat’ Mr Kallman retired and Mr Minnie our present Principal, took the post in 1994.
Mr Minnie has been on the staff at Alberton High since the 70’s. Another staff member who has been at Alberton High since the 70’s is Mrs Jardine.
This year, 2013, sees us celebrate our 39th anniversary.
Alberton High continues to uphold the standards and traditions which began thirty seven years ago, and will continue to do so right into the next century. As, in the past, the school has been committed to excellence and service, we trust that this will be the basis on which to build for the next 40 successful years.
Back in 1974 two winemakers entered into a friendly wager over whether or not it was possible to mature a Muscat d’Alexandrie for any length of time. Philippus Petrus Deetlefs maintained it was not possible and set out to prove so. He filled a third of a tank with Hanepoot lees and topped the tank up with Hanepoot wine, before closing it for the next 15 years. When this tank was finally opened, it turned out that he had produced what would become South Africa’s most expensive dessert wine. Forty years may seem like a long time to make a wine, but 1974 is proof that certain things are well worth the wait.
1974 also turned out to be a good year for Alberton, as this was the year that saw the birth of Alberton High School; a school that in time would leave an indelible imprint on the hearts and minds of those who came into contact with it and, as is true for the Muscat d’Alexandrie, the school also only improved with time.
When the school opened its doors for the first time, it only had two hundred and thirty pupils and no principal had been assigned to run it. Mr. S. Tobias served as acting principal. The school did not have a uniform, or a badge as yet, and pupils simply wore the uniforms of the schools they came from.
In 1975, Mr R. Conacher was appointed principal and the pupil enrolment had increased to a staggering four hundred, with twenty-eight members of staff. It was also the year that saw the design of the current school uniform and badge and the school started the arduous task of establishing its own character and traditions.
Within the first decade, the E-block was occupied and the school’s numbers kept increasing with such rapidity that it soon became necessary to build the prefab classes in the F-block and later on the G-block.
By 1977, when the school was a mere three years old, two members of staff joined the team, who in time would prove themselves to be assets to the long-term interests of the school – Mr. Kallman (deputy principal) and Mr. Minnie (head of department). Both of these gentlemen would in coming years, serve Alberton High as consecutive principals.
The school already reached capacity in 1980, with an enrolment number of 1 100 pupils, forcing the community to open a second English medium secondary school, Bracken High, to accommodate the excess learners who applied for enrolment. The school’s popularity has proven to be long-standing, as we still top the lists of schools with a record number of pupils applying to enrol at our school.
The success of Alberton High can certainly be attributed in large to the dedication and commitment of both its pupils and staff. Mrs. Jardine, who is set to retire at the end of the year, still recalls having to drive to and fro with her Volkswagen Beetle to carry hockey players to the nearby fields for practice in the afternoons, as the school did not possess its own sport facilities as yet.
Since those early days, the school has made its mark in the sporting arena, boasting a large variety of sports and sporting activities, winning many a league and proving beyond a doubt that it is a force to be reckoned with. However, the school boasts as proud a cultural legacy as it does a sporting one, with school plays, house plays, Eisteddfod, choir and many more activities where it has excelled and taken more awards than can be mentioned in an article of this nature.
Alberton High’s tradition of excellence is not restricted to extra-mural activities only. The persistent brilliant results of its pupils and teachers in the academic field, continues to make it a sought-after school for parents to send their children to. The first batch of pupils to write the senior certificate entered the exams with great success in 1976, but the pride and success in this has not dwindled since, not even in an environment and phase in history where many a competitive school has had to admit defeat and surrender its success rates.