Rylands High School celebrated their 40th anniversary on Saturday July 23, and hosted a thanksgiving ceremony for the staff, ex-staff, and governing body, to thank them for 40 years of support.
The school started out in 1976 as the only Indian school in the Western Cape, with predominantly Indian pupils, but later became a mixed race school.
It started off with 80 pupils and 15 staff members. In the first few years the school ran from Grade 1 to Grade 9, and added on another grade every year, until 1979 when the school had its first matric group.
Principal at the time, Ismail Waja, served for 10 years until Essop Moosa took from 1986 to 1987, as acting principal.
Beharie Lalla took over in 1989 until 1998, followed by Kay Pillay in 1999 until July last year.
Morgan Munien then took over in August last year until December when current principal Kona Naidoo took over.
Mr Munien is the deputy principal at the school.
Mr Naidoo, 39, was previously the principal of Boundary Primary School in Bonteheuwel. He joined the Rylands High School family in January this year.
Mr Naidoo said he was very proud of the school for always having maintained their high academic standards.
“The first thing that I thought of when I walked into the school was that it is a beautiful school with a strong history of academic excellence. I had a very warm welcome from the staff and pupils. The school still maintains such high standards. It is something to be proud of,” said Mr Naidoo.
One of the longest serving staff members at the school, Champa Ranchod, 64, started her journey at the school in August 1976 as a secretary.
She recalled that, that year, the school opened during winter, and that some parents had refused to enrol their children at the school because of the politics surrounding the school, it being a predominantly Indian school. But a year later, in 1977, a number of pupils transferred to the school, many of whom lived outside the area.
Today the school has 54 staff members and 1 087 pupils.
The school offers sports such as volleyball, cricket, rugby, chess, soccer, and soft ball and it participates in the Cape Argus Schools Quizz every year.
Mr Naidoo said sports remain prevalent at the school because it keeps the pupils off the streets. “Sport gives the pupils something to look forward to every day. The pupils love athlectics time and are very excited to participate,” he said.
The school has pupils from different areas but predominantly from Mitchell’s Plain, Bonteheuwel, Hanover Park, Surrey Estate, Rylands, and Manenberg.
Mr Munien started at the school in 1980.
He taught biology, physical science, and health education from Grade 6 up to matric.
He said the school has played an important role in the struggle against apartheid.
“The Casspirs and the police would stand here outside of the school and surround us. Our school was a hub of activity for the struggle,” said Mr Munien.
“The one change at the school is that the community spirit is not there anymore,” he, however, observed.
“Before, the parents would support us in everything we did but now it is a bit different, the support isn’t there anymore.”
On Saturday June 23, the school hosted a thanksgiving evening in the school hall to thank parents, staff, governing body members, and ex-staff for the many years of support, and on Tuesday July 26, held a thanksgiving assembly for the pupils.