In pursuit of excellence
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.