That was then, this is now: Cornwall Hill College 20 years on

BY LEON KUNNEKE

In 1998, Cornwall Hill College, in Irene, Pretoria, Gauteng, opened its doors to some 380 pupils, ranging from Grade 0 to Grade 9.

Pupil numbers have continued to climb and we presently have over 1800 pupils enrolled at Cornwall Hill College. Our driving focus over the past 20 years has remained constant: a passionate vision of a great future for our school; teachers who can raise their eyes high enough over the daily urban smog to see that ordinary children can do wonderful things if the conditions are right. Thus, twenty years on, our school has grown and developed into an institution with an exemplary reputation and prominence in our community. The 25 hectares of land on which our school was established in 1998, was generously donated by the Van der Byl family, whose vision was based primarily on the principles which provided for a centre of holistic education. Indeed, by adopting this approach, our school has, over the past twenty years, produced pupils who have gone on to make remarkable lives for themselves. To mention but a few, Brandon Stone, who matriculated in 2011 has become a professional golfer who plays on the European and Sunshine Tours. Stone won the SA Golf Open in 2016 and more recently, the 2018 Scottish Open. Another pupil who has achieved remarkably well in the sporting arena is Andrie Steyn who matriculated from Cornwall Hill in 2015 and has since represented the South African Women’s cricket team in more than 21-day international matches. In the realm of culture, past pupil Ivan Botha has featured in many films.

Twenty years of transformation

The phrase the ‘then and now’ speaks of a history of nurturing pupils of the highest calibre. This is made possible as our pupils have access to all the latest technological and educational resources needed for today’s challenging environment. The pupils of our school are fully equipped to venture into a world that is locally relevant and globally competitive.
Testimony to the exponential growth of Cornwall Hill College is the transformation of our school’s facilities. The original ‘footprint’ layout of the school, which originally had to reflect the estimated needs of the college in every way, has continued to expand at a phenomenal rate, yet still reflects the neo-colonial style which characterises every building at the college. We are extremely proud that with this growth the college has remained true to the original architectural masterplan, which still creates an atmosphere similar to that of an Irene village.
We have built two hockey Astroturf fields enhanced by state-of-the-art flood lighting. New pavilions have been constructed for our cricket, netball and tennis teams. An extremely wide range of activities are on offer to our pupils; not only the traditional sports, but also more exotic pursuits such as horse riding, chess, debating, public speaking and the pipe band.

Cornwall Hill College offers boarding facilities for both boys and girls from Grades 8-12. Hill House, established in 2008, caters for over 60 boys, while the newer Tintagel House, opened in 2014, offers accommodation for 32 girls. The caring and supportive boarding environment allows space for the pupils to grow in confidence and to develop friendships that will last a lifetime. Cornwall Hill College Boarding is an exciting and vibrant community, a “home away from home”. The pupils are strongly encouraged to participate in all aspects of school life to become active and happy members of the school community. Socially, they learn to interact with boys and girls of different ages from diverse backgrounds, teaching them tolerance and understanding.

The passionately curious conference

We have celebrated our 20th year in several different ways. The preschool hosted an early childhood development conference based on the theme “Passionately Curious” on
12 May 2018. Delegates from around the country, as well as neighbouring countries, registered to attend the conference. The conference, which took its title from a statement
attributed to Albert Einstein, “I have no special talent, I am just passionately curious”, was about telling stories about moments on our preschool journey where children are encouraged to become ‘more’. Delegates were welcomed to the school by our executive principal, Leon Kunneke, and guided through the events by the principal of the preparatory school, Maurice Dicks. Michael Neumann, our college chaplain, led delegates in a beautiful devotion and Carla Greenland, our preschool principal gave the keynote address titled: “Tell Your Story!” Delegates then joined different workshop sessions, each facilitated by one of the preschool teachers. Practical activities, hands-on games and interactive discussions were encouraged through each of the workshops.
Delegates were encouraged to engage intentionally with one another as the conference was not only about taking a few ideas back to their schools, but also about finding a group of colleagues with whom to collaborate and share experiences. Motivational speaker Les Brown, stated that “the richest place in the world is the graveyard”. Too many great ideas go there to die, not only because we are scared to share them, but also because we have not shown anyone a compelling enough reason as to why they should be interested in the first place.

A special art exhibition

Every second year, our preparatory school hosts an art exhibition displaying art from Grades 1-7. Our main focus has been on an interactive setting that allows our guests to experience the displayed art in the same manner as our pupils did in making and creating their art.
Last year was our 20th birthday, and what better way to celebrate our school than by hosting our biggest exhibition yet. Integrating different subjects and technology in the art class has been our main focus. Our 20th birthday exhibition displayed practical work as well as a variety of digital designs, 3D printing products and robotics installations.
We also had our very first silent auction this year in which every class participated. In addition, we auctioned a large rhino installation filled with bottle lids collected by our pupils. The proceeds have been donated to a rhino conservation project.

For whom the bell tolls; for one and all

At college level, a bell tower has been erected during the course of the year which will mark each student’s entry and exit points into and from high school.
The past 20 years have been a time of considerable growth, enjoyment and satisfaction across many fields. As we move on to the next 10 years, we shall continue to prepare our pupils for the ever-changing and challenging environment with which the world presents us. Our primary goal is to maximise 15 years of schooling so that the process of the development of our youth can be both consequential and meaningful. If the measure of success in a school is its growth, its results and the enjoyment of its young people, then we have been successful in choosing the motto“Singuliomnes”,“Foroneandall”.

Leon Kunneke is executive principal at Cornwall Hill College.

Category: Winter 2019

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