HistoryJuly 4, 2021 2021-08-03 8:58
Humble Beginnings Of Our School
The very humble beginnings of our school can be traced back to the early 1800s, a time when this area was a harsh environment, indeed.
The first inhabitants of our area were wood industrialists, who were issued concessions in 1777. Mr Ruttger van Huyssteen made the Wittedrift valley his permanent residence in 1787 and it was his eldest son, Hendrik I, who later became worried about the education of his children. Initially, he employed distracted marines as schoolmasters.
Then in 1862, a meeting was held in Wittedrift to establish a public primary school at this place. The original school buildings were located on Hendrik I’s farm, Muiskraal, on the “Stofpad” and consisted of a wagon shed and horse stables.
William Henry Cooper was nominated as the first teacher (for whom the community had to provide an established residence and vegetable garden) in 1863. A succession of teachers followed – none lasting longer than a year.
During Mr Nel’s tenure, there were several “first-year pupil teachers”. Many singing competitions were organized against neighboring schools, wherein Wittedrift always emerged victoriously and brought home the shield – which still resides in the school.
Eventually, during the nine-year tenure of Mr Stofberg, the school’s status changed to that of a secondary school. This resulted in a drastic increase in learner numbers, which necessitated the construction of a hostel, a principal’s residence, and the training of teachers; the area was too remote to import teachers from elsewhere.
On his deathbed years earlier, Hendrik I had instructed his son to gift land for the construction of a school and hostel. Hendrik II, his grandson, complied with his wishes. He shifted the focus of his operation from Muiskraalto to the Wittedrift farm and made land available. A succession of buildings culminated in the eventual state-constructed building in 1914. That building still stands and presently houses the Wittedrift Primary School. The current high school premises were constructed in 1950, when the number of learners exceeded the maximum capacity of the previous building. Throughout its history, the community has been incredibly supportive of the school – raising funds for the construction of the school hall, the clubhouse and tuck shop, and the boys’ bathroom. Our school’s aim is still to serve our community and garner its support in return.
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