School Motto – Labor Est Ars – “Work is Art”
Opened in 1904, the school must be one of the oldest government schools still operating in South Africa. Beginning humbly with 11 pupils under the Headmastership of Mr GE Davies, within a month a further 27 pupils arrived at the modest building in Peter Graham Street. As was common practise at the time, the structure served several functions – the first teacher lived at the back of the building with his family and the dining hall / kitchen was frequently used as a gathering place for churches, the White River Farmers’ Association met there to discuss agricultural issues and dances lasting well into the night were also held there.
A mud and dung floor was the base for the first desks which came from Burger Camp School in Barberton, but in March 1906 the children were delighted by an unexpected week’s holiday when wooden plank floors were laid down!
The first trees were planted on the 17th September 1904, and today’s campus is a shady, calm place where 1131 pupils – 560 Afrikaans- and 571 English-speaking, learn, play sport and thrive through their early years of formal education. Mr Frannie van der Riet is the Headmaster and the school offers English, Afrikaans and Dual medium classes. The small boarding facilities cater for 47 pupils, 25 Girls & 22 Boys and the school has an Aftercare which operates from Monday to Friday 14:35 – 17:15.
A wide variety of sport is played – Athletics, Rugby, Netball, Cross country, Cricket, Tennis, Swimming, Hockey and Chess, balanced by a range of cultural activities as well – Choir, Eisteddfod, Speech festivals, Church camps, UCSA, Art competitions, Revue, Concerts and the Community Outreach.
They have a stellar list of past pupils, including Springbok rugby players Danie Rossouw and Duane Vermeulen; Carlien van Staden, who set a world record in the u/13 1500m at the Pacific Schools Games in 2000; Tracy Todd Hein, the popular Quadriplegic motivational speaker, blogger, writer and teacher; Nathani Lüneburg, a visual artist currently lecturing at Unisa while studying for her PHd and Esra Bosch, White River’s world renowned ceramic artist.