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Historiese Oorsig / Historical Overview 1904 – 2019

LABOR EST ARS  –  “Werk is Kuns”  / “Work is Art” 

Deur die eeue heen laat elke mensegeslag spore van sy bestaan agter in die vorm van potskerwe, bouvalle met skadu’s teen effens-mure, rotstekeninge in ‘n gloed van bruinrooi.  Monumente uit die ver verlede…

Dis Februarie 1904.  Die warm Laeveld son brand fel op die bruin aarde neer.  En elf rye voetspore stap ‘n opwindende toekoms binne.  Ons eie skool!

Through the ages each generation has left their footprints either in the form of potshards, building ruins with shadows against wall remains, cave-paintings in blood or brownish-red.  Monuments from the past…

It’s February 1904. The hot Lowveld sun is beating down harshly on the brown earth.  And eleven rows of footprints walk towards an exciting future. Our school!

‘n Grootste gevoel van trots en ontsag vul elke aar as ek dink dat ons die voorreg het om presies eenhonderd en vyftien jaar na hierdie besondere dag getuies te kan wees van die sukses van Laerskool Witrivier!  Na baie snuffelwerk in ‘n skatkis van ou dokumente en jaarblaaie is dit vir my ‘n voorreg om stukkies interessante inligting met julle te deel.  Dit was die maklikste ding in die wêreld om weg te raak in die geskiedenis en prentjie-gedagtes op papier te sit.

The overwhelming feeling of pride and humility fills every vein of me, when I think that we have the privilege to be witnesses, 115 years later, of the success of White River Primary!  After much research and detective work in a treasure chest of documents and Year Books it is a privilege for me to reveal and share small pieces of interesting information about our school.  It was the easiest thing in the world to get lost in the history and paint word pictures on paper.

Slegs ‘n maand na die amptelike opening van die “goewerment skooltjie” met Mnr G.E. Davies as hoof het ‘n verdere 27 leergierige leerlinge by die eenvoudige gebou in Peter Grahamstraat ingestap.  Nie net was dit ‘n plek van onderrig nie, maar die agterste gedeelte van die eenvertrek skooltjie moes herberg bied aan die eerste onderwyser en sy gesin.  ‘n Voedingskombuis, wat deel van die ou gebou uitgemaak het, is op ‘n gereelkde basis as vergadersaal vir verskillende kerkgenootskappe gebruik, vrolike danspartye is ook hier gehou en die White River Farmers Association het hier tot laatnag gesels oor wind en weer.  ‘n Ware kultuurfort!

Just a month after the official opening of the “government school” with Mr G.E. Davies as the principal another 27 pupils walked into the simply built school in Peter Graham Street.  Not only was it a place of learning, but the rear of the building had to be the residence of the first teacher and his family. A dining hall/kitchen that made up part of the building was often used as a gathering place for various churches, the White River Farmers, Association used it until late at night while discussing the wind and rain and joyful dance parties were often hosted. A true fortress of culture!

Die eerste skoolbanke het al die pad van die Burger-kampskool in Barberton gekom, en grondvloere het vir die res van die eiesoortige ambience gesorg.  Met groot vermaak het ek ‘n inspekteursrapport, gedateer 16 September 1904, raakgelees: “School Room and Teachers Quarters… in a good state of repair but some allowance should be granted to the Principal in order to enable him to do such work as smearing the floor.”  Nou ja, plankvloere is in Maart 1906 ingesit, ter vreugde van die kinders wat toe ‘n hele week se vakansie pasella kry.

The first desks came all the way from Burger Camp School in Barberton and the ground floor added to the unique ambiance.  It was with great excitement that I read the Inspector’s Report dated 16 September 1904, “School Room and Teachers Quarters… in a good state of repair but some allowance should be granted to the Principal in order to enable him to do such work as smearing the floor.”    Be that as it may, in March 1906, wooden planked floors were put in. The children were really happy as the got an unexpected week’s holiday. 

Op 17 September 1904 is die eerste bome geplant, en dit was duidelik dat meer ruimte steeds ‘n groter behoefte geword het weens die toename in leerlinge.  ‘n Nuwe skoolgebou met drie klaskamers is egter steeds in 1926 voltooi, en spoedig daarna moes weer aangebou word.  ‘n Nuwe vleuel met ‘n verdere drie klaskamers is in 1931 aangevoor, en by die voltooiing daarvan het die destydse skoolkommissie besluit om die nuwe vleuel na die destydse L.P.R., ene Raubenheimer, te vernoem.

On 17 September 1904 the first trees were planted and it quickly became apparent that larger facilities would be needed with the growing number of pupils.  A bigger school was built in 1926 with 3 classrooms and soon after that even more buildings were erected. A new wing with 3 more class was built in 1931.  At the completion of this building phase the then school commission decided to name the new wing after the serving M.P.C – Mr Raubenheimer.

Die stygende leerlinggetalle het hand aan hand gegaan met ‘n besondere skoolstatus… op 1 Augustus 1929 is die skool tot PIII skool geproklameer, dit wil sê, ‘n skool met ‘n inskrywing van meer as 100 leerlinge.

The growing pupil numbers grew hand-in-hand with the school’s distinctive status… and on 1 August 1929 the school was proclaimed a P111 school, which meant it was a school with more than 100 pupils.

Tydens die Kroonkolonie-jare is leerlinge in Engels onderrig, en slegs Bybelgeskiedenis is in Hollands gedoseer.  In sy eerste inspeksie rapport, gedateer 17 November 1905, verheug die inspekteur hom oor die feit dat die leerlinge in so ‘n kort tydjie soveel kennis van Engels opgedoen het.

During the Crown Colony years the pupils were educated in English and only Biblical History was taught in Dutch.  In his first inspection report, dated 17 November 1905 was elated by the fact that the pupils were able to display their knowledge of English in so short a period.

Hierdie toestand kon egter nie langer voortduur nie, en op 20 Oktober 1908 bring inspekteur Klooster die volgende rapport uit: “in deze school is het medium van onderwys Engels.  Volgens de eis van de tegenwoordige wet en cirkulaire No. 1 1908 moet’t medium hier Hollands zijn.  De onderwyzer,…., moet Zorgen dat z’n school geleidelik komt op het standpunt van de Wet.”  Met sy volgende besoek in September 1909 kon inspekteur Mills dan ook rapporteer dat: “Dutch has now been definitely adopted as the medium of instruction.”  Net as interessantheid – Hollands as vak op skool is in November 1917 deur Afrikaans vervang, en op 11 April 1926 is ‘n onderwyseres aangestel om die eerste 16 Engelssprekende leerlinge te onderrig.

This language situation could not continue for much longer and on 20October 1908 issued the following report: “ … in deze school is het medium van onderwys Engels. Volgens de eis van de tegenwoordige wet en cirkulaire No 1 1908 moiet’t medium hier Hollands zijner.  De onderwyzer, …, moet  Zorgen dat z’n school geleidelik kompt op het standpunt van de Wet.” With his next visit in September 1909 Inspector Mills could report: “Dutch has now definitely been adopted as the medium of instruction.” Just as a point of interest – Hollands was replaced by Afrikaans as a school subject on November 1917 and on 11 April 1926 a lady teacher was appointed to teach English to the first 11 English speaking pupils.

Vervoer was in daardie dae maar redelik yl gesaai, en dit was niks buitengewoons vir die kinders om afstande van 5 en 6 myl te voet af te lê na die skool nie.  As gevolg van die vervoerkwessie was skoolbesoek nie altyd uit die boonste rakke nie, en om hierdie moeilikheid the oorbrug is muile en trollies ingespan!  In Februarie 1928 is die eerste busvervoer ingestel nadat Plaston-skool hierheen gesentraliseer is.

In those days transport was a rather slow process and it wasn’t unusual for children to walk 5 or 6 miles to school. As a result of the transport problems school attendance wasn’t the best! To try and improve the situation mules and carts were introduced.  In February 1928 the first bus service was initiated after the Plaston School was centralized with this school.

Die behoefte aan ‘n losiesinrigting het reeds so vroeg as 1918 ter sprake gekom, maar dit was nie voor Januarie 1936 dat die eerste koshuis – ‘n woonhuis met buitekamers – geopen is nie.  Spoedig hierna was meer huisvesting nodig en die oorspronklike ou skoolgeboutjie is toe ook vir hierdie doel gebruik.  En is dit nie wonderlik om te dink dat die sirkelgang deur die uiters bekende Afrikaanse kunstenaar, Pierneef, ontwerp is nie!

The need for boarding was realised as early as 1918.  But it was only in 1936 that the first hostel with a living quarters and outside rooms was opened.  The demand for boarding quickly grew and the original old school building was used for this purpose. Is it not amazing that the circle entrance was designed by the well-known South African artist – Pierneef!

Menige akademiese beeldhouer se beitel het gehelp vorm en slyp aan die kunswerk van vandag.  Name rol soos ‘n film verby, ongetwyfeld met stories en staaltjies te vertel.  Van hierdie “beeldhouers” van ouds was:

Many academic sculptor’s chisels have helped to form and hone us into the art form we are today. These names roll like the credits on a film, undoubtedly with stories and anecdotes. Some of these sculptors from the past are:

  • E. Davies 1904 – 1908
    G. Nysse 1908 – 1915
    Breytenbach 1915 – 1917
    P. Powell 1918 – 1922
    P.O.R. Friedrich 1922 – 1923
    S.W. du Preez 1923 – 1926
    F. Davey 1927 – 1934
    R.S. Ferreira 1935 – 1936
    A. Barnard 1937 – 1943
    P.H. Kat 1943 – 1954
    J.F. Naude 1955 – 1955
    P.H. Kat 1956 – 1966
    P.G. van Rooyen 1967 – 1976
    J.P. Grovè 1977 – 1977
    W.A. Nel 1978 – 1993
    A.J. Schlemmer 1994 – 2002
    F.P. v/d Riet 2002 – Huidiglik

Geskiedenis staan egter nooit stil nie.  In die derde skooltermyn gedurende 1963 is die skoolgebou soos ons dit vandag ken in gebruik geneem.  Die skoollied is hier heel van pas: “soos Witrivier se strome van ver deur ruigtes vloei, het ons skool van ver terug deur ruigtes van die tyd bly groei!”

History never stands still.  In the third term of 1968, the school, as it stands today, was taken into use. Our School Song is so apt: … as White River’s streams flow from distant thickets, so our school has continued to grow  from the thickets of the past,”

Laerskool Witrivier se strewe na parallel-medium onderrig, hoë akademiese standaarde en ‘n reënboog van buite kurrikulêre aktiwiteite is ‘n fantastiese voorbeeld van ware etos en karakter.

White River Primary’s striving towards true parallel medium education, high educational standards and a rainbow of extra-curricular activities is a fantastic example of true ethos and character.

Groot feesvieringe het Witrivier binnegeval toe Laerskool Witrivier op 6 Februarie 2004 die eeuwording herdenk het.  Die dag het vir eindelose pret gesorg met ‘n optog deur die strate, ‘n kruiwa-resies en toutrekkompetisie, en ‘n piekniek op die sportvelde om die historiese dag mee af te sluit.

Great festivities took place in White River when White River Primary celebrated its centenary on 6 February 2004.  The day was one of endless fun including a procession through the town, wheel-barrow races, tug-of-war competitions and a picnic on the sports’ fields to end off the historical day.

Mnr. Van Der Riet, personeel en leerlinge hier het alle rede om trots te wees op hierdie Laeveldse skat.  Nie net vul Laerskool Witrivier se wortels ‘n mens met wonder nie, maar ook die sekere wete van waarheen hulle op pad is.

Mr van der Riet, staff and pupils all have reason to be proud of this Lowveld treasure.  Not only does White River Primary fill a person to the roots with amazement, but also with the sure knowledge with a sense of where one is going.