Clarendon School for Girls (as we know it today) was founded in 1903, but it was not until 1937 that a separate Primary school would be established as a separate institution, followed some 30 years later by the Preparatory School.
The three sister schools of Clarendon remain closely interlinked to this day. A further link that deserves mention is the close relation between the Clarendon and Selborne schools, both of which were born from a co-ed institution founded by Pastor Muller in 1886. In 1903, Dr. Muir, the Superintendent General of Education at the time, opened a separate girls’ school in Oxford Street, and a boys’ school on Recreation Road. Thus began the separate but related journey of what is now known as Clarendon and Selborne respectively.
Some quick facts about Clarendon’s history
The school’s motto – fac et spera, which means work and hope, was coined by Miss Gittins (later Booty) in 1905. She was the second headmistress of the school, and also chose the emblem of the Cycad (a popular symbol of the Eastern Cape) to represent the ethos and identity of the school.
The first school dance was arranged by Miss Marjorie Ketchen (Vice Principal from 1907-1912, and became Principal in 1912). She also introduced a broader curriculum, brought about the change of uniform to include navy serge tunics with green and white colours on the badge and hatband, and established the first boarding hostel.
The first prefects were appointed in 1933 by Miss Donald (Headmistress 1925-1945). During her tenure, the following significant changes took place:
• The school’s House System was introduced
• The green and white-striped girdle was introduced as the first Hockey Team award (the origin of the Team Awards still in place today)
• The uniform was amended by introducing a navy box-pleated gym and Panama hat
• The school moved to its location on Connaught and Union Avenue (Ground broken on 27 March 1936, and the facility was opened on 22 February 1937 by Lady Clarendon)
Under the leadership of Miss Marjory Hill, who was appointed towards the end of World War II, the school celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1953 and the first Founders’ Day Service was held (a strong tradition to this day).
Twenty years later Miss Pat McGaffin (Headmistress 1956-1968), and Mr George Randell (Chairman of the School Committee) obtained permission from the Earl of Clarendon to change the name of the school to Clarendon High School for Girls (previously East London Girls’ High school). Miss McGaffin also saw the development of the School’s Swimming Bath, which was named the Joan Harrison Swimming Bath in honour of alumnus and SA gold medallist, Joan Harrison.
Miss Mary Laurie (1969 – 1983) saw the building of the school’s squash courts and the school celebrated 75 years of tradition.
Miss Judith Stuart-Watson (1984 – 1994) introduced the Honours Blazer for high achievement in academic, sporting or cultural fields and the school hymn, which was written by the school’s Prefects.
Mr Owen Nel (1995 – 2013) was the school’s first Headmaster, who oversaw building extensions, the development of a shared Astroturf with Selborne College, and a new Computer Centre. He also introduced Rowing and Waterpolo to the co-curricular programme and introduced the tartan uniform comprised of the school’s historic green and navy colours.
The school continues to uphold the values and traditions laid down by its Founders.
Miss Patricia Rose is the current Principal of Clarendon High School, and under her leadership the school is working to maintain the standards and relevance to meet the demands of modern day education.