School debates name change

The Settlers High school is considering changing the name of the school.

The Settlers High School is considering changing its name.

The school’s governing body met with parents, pupils and past pupils on Saturday October 28 to discuss the proposed name change, as well as the school’s songs and symbols. The school posted a survey on its Facebook page on Friday October 20, asking parents, pupils and past pupils to complete it.

In the survey, the school said, “The Settlers High School was chosen to be the name at the time, as it was felt that it would be fitting to commemorate the British Settlers of 1820 and the values that they upheld.

“Our school’s name has already been debated a number of times in the past: In the late 1990s and again in the second decade of this century, the name was found to be appropriate by many in the current community served by the school,” the survey said.

The proposed name change was widely debated on the school’s Facebook page with many against the name change. Others agreed that the school’s song and the name of the school’s houses should be changed.

Pupils are divided into houses, which were introduced in 1968 to promote a keener sense of competition within the school. They were named after the 1820 Settlers Andrew Geddes Bain, Thomas Pringle and Reverend William Shawn.

Monique Burrows wrote: “Took the survey. I can wholeheartedly support the change of the house names. Not the school’s name. My dad attended The Settlers High School, my brother and I did too. Changing the name is like trying to erase history.

“As mentioned, the settlers could account for very different cultures from the British settlers to Khoisan. I struggle to grasp what the issue is and why it needs to be changed? Why spend money on the changes when that money can be used to enrich better learning.”

Rushda Kriel Ryland questioned if the costs involved were being considered. “Changing the name/symbol will include the changing of uniform, tog bags and everything else that displays the name/symbols. I feel that the money can be put to better use.”

Reg Woolston, a past pupil, wrote: “Here’s my 10c worth. I attended Settlers from 1981 to 1985, right at the time when all the change was just starting to happen, so I remember the turmoil.

“The Settlers High School will always be just that to me, a place where I started my experiences of all the good, and bad, that is South Africa.

“Will changing all its iconography make present and future generations happy? Possibly. In a vacuum, they will eventually forget that it ever carried names and tunes that could possibly offend. That’s what happens when one rewrites history.

“What it will not change is my memory of it and the years I spent carrying projectors and other audio visual paraphernalia around for various events. It will not tarnish the memories of all those lunch breaks spent behind the prefabs, and so many other fond times.

“I will simply cease to care after that event and tell my kids that I once attended The Settlers High School, but that it no longer exists, yet another victim to the surge of misdirected hate and short sightedness awash in my former country.”

School governing body chairman Mervyn Waddle said the online survey and Saturday’s meeting was part of the process of gathering information and engaging through discussions.

He said a decision had not been taken regarding the name changes to the school, symbols, flag or the song.

“The purpose of the meeting was not to get to a decision, since there is no such mandate currently on the table. The school continuously engages with learners, parents, staff and other stakeholders regarding their input into matters of common interest,” he said.

Mr Waddle said in this instance the school was focused on diversity and all factors associated to this topic.

“This is an ongoing process, which has taken place before and will continue for years to come.”