A College is Born
St George’s College was established in 2001 by the St George’s Preparatory School. The idea of a College that would serve as a natural progression for St George’s Preparatory pupils had been under discussion for many years. Once the decision to start the College was taken in 2000, Mr Trevor Long, a principal of many years’ standing, agreed to forget his retirement and accepted the position of principal.
When the school opened its doors in 2001 in the music block adjacent to the Prep, the initial enrolment was seven pupils with two full time members of staff, Mr Long and Mr Mark Barclay, and a number of part- time teachers. From the beginning there was a wonderful spirit of friendliness that permeated throughout the school and the close bonds that were forged within the school soon became a feature of the College. This, together with the quality teaching on offer, saw St George’s pupils growing into well- rounded young adults with bright futures.
The early years were extremely challenging. As the school was still new, there was, at that stage, no record of continued success to attract new pupils. While enrolment figures were climbing steadily, the College needed to speed up the increase in its enrolment. In order to facilitate this, the College, in its third year, decided to reduce its school fees and the staff agreed to a reduction in their salaries to make this possible. This tough decision and the sacrifice by its committed teachers saved the College, and, as numbers grew, the College moved to its current premises.
The establishment and survival of the school would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of Mr Gavin Harvey, the first Chairman of the Governing Council, whose vision and immense contribution helped carry the school in its early years. Mr Garry McWilliams has also been central to the success of the College. His constant support and particularly his acquisition of the College’s present building, have been central to the growth of the College. It is therefore no surprise that when the first two houses at the College were established they were called Harvey House and McWilliams House. The school continues to enjoy the support of these two gentlemen.
In the middle of 2003, after steering the College through its initial challenges and establishing the working structure of the College, Mr Long retired, for a second time, and was succeeded by Mr Mark Barclay. Mr Long has continued in his dedication to the College. He not only serves on the St George’s Preparatory Governing Council, but continues to assist in managing the College finances.
2005 marked another milestone for the College when the first group of seven pupils wrote matric. Each subsequent year has seen a growth in numbers. 2011 marks another milestone in that there are two matric classes with a total of 32 pupils. As the School is reaching its capacity more classroom space to accommodate expansion is desparatey needed.
Two of the main underpinning principles of the College are independence and academic excellence. For this reason the College writes examinations of the Independent Education Board. Although these exams are tough, our pupils have excelled. 2010 was a particularly good year and our pupils obtained their best record to date. Rachel Mullins and Samantha van der Westhuizen, both ex-St George’s Prep pupils, set the standard by obtaining six and four distinctions, respectively. In 2011, Suzie Martel obtained six distinctions.
From the outset, pupils at the College flourished not just academically but in all spheres. This is well illustrated by our participation in the President’s Award. We are not simply participants, but leaders in this award. In 2010 eight of our pupils obtained Gold Awards. This was the highest number for any school in the Eastern Cape.
In many ways, the President’s Award exemplifies the type of pupil we strive to mould at St George’s College. We are a small school but outward looking, and encourage our pupils to be active participants within the broader community in a variety of spheres. Whether it was our Junior City Mayor — Loide de Almeida (Headgirl in 2010 and recipient of the Alan Gray Scholarship) or Thandokazi Ngcelwane, who was appointed as a brand ambassador for Mark Shuttleworth’s Hip282 science initiative — our pupils excel in what they do and are actively involved in a diverse range of programmes such as a community outreach project to hack alien vegetation out of the Baakens Valley.
From the very beginning this sense of engagement with life has been central to the ethos of the College. The College has rapidly begun to build a record of continued success.