School makes history with blue plaque award

Bonteheuwel High Schools Young Historians group performed a song in celebration of their schools blue plaque status.

Bonteheuwel High School became the 16th school in the province to receive the blue heritage plaque for the legacy left behind by Ashley Kriel – a former pupil and slain Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) commander.

The school’s blue plaque status was revealed at an unveiling ceremony at Bonteheuwel High on Tuesday November 20. A blue plaque means an institution or building is being recognised as a heritage site. It is recognised all over the world. The Centre for Conservation Education and the Simon van der Stel Foundation are partners in the blue plaque project.

Addressing the audience at the ceremony, Sigi Howes, the principal of the Centre for Conservation Education, said: “What the blue plaque tells us that this is an important site. It is a heritage marker and alerts one that something important happened here.

“Ashley Kriel fought for the values he believed in. It does not mean that he is the only one at Bonteheuwel High that did something great. Blue plaques were awarded to buildings for a variety of reasons, but no schools had this before.

“Four years ago, the pilot was started with the Simon van der Stel Foundation so that schools can apply. The school has to motivate why they deserve the blue plaque status when they apply. A jury then decides. One school every year is awarded the blue plaque status for free and four others annually can pay for it.

“There are four categories, which include the age of the school (it must be at least 125 years old), be an architecturally significant building, offer exceptional service to the community and surviving under difficult circumstances, and have a past pupil or teacher who excelled themselves.”

Principal Nicola Pather was so overjoyed, that she announced that the Ashley Kriel Development Centre would be coming to Bonteheuwel next year. It is currently based at the College of Cape Town in Crawford.

Head boy Nehemiah Cassiem challenged his peers to “take the baton left by people like Ashley Kriel and run with it”.

“This is our chance to be a catalyst for change,” he added.