‘Golden Oldies’ honour their school

High School pupils enjoy the assembly.

More than 100 ex-pupils of Muizenberg High School had a special reunion event last week.

The “Golden Oldies”, as they called themselves, travelled from all over the world for their reunion, and to make donations of tables and benches to their old school.

Gerald Musikanth praised the current school principal Leonie Jacobsen and said the donations were her choice. “We offered assistance and that is what the school most needed, so that is what we gave, and we were most happy to,” he said.

The ex-pupils gathered at the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay on Thursday August 24, and regaled each other over dinner with tales of their childhoods and years at the 120-year-old school.

Ms Jacobsen was absolutely charmed, and described the night as highlight of her life. “We were there, laughing and listening to stories until about midnight,” she said.

The group was of a different era, mostly Jewish and very accomplished, she said.

Mike Piha, who travelled from Johannesburg for the event, said among the group was an ex-mayoress of Cape Town, two well known retired bankers, and the doctor who found the heart for Phillip Blaiberg (the third person to undergo a heart transplant), as well as one of Sea Point’s most prominent dentists.

Mr Piha addressed the school during a special assembly on Friday August 25, and had the pupils in stitches with his quips – but he also gave them much to think about.

He told them they are older than they have ever been, but are also younger than they ever will be again, and that they should grasp onto every opportunity offered to them, by a great school.

He stressed the vital importance of achieving a good matric pass, and encouraged them to cherish their school and the connections they made – pointing to the group of 100 people behind him who ranged in age from 65 to 80.

“These were my classmates and school peers. And look – all these years on we are still coming together to give back to our school in gratitude.

“Today, you can look ahead and envision what it will be like for you to be on this stage in your old age, and today, you can begin to reflect on what you can do for your school and each other, in the years ahead,” Mr Piha said.

A website is being created to tell the story of the Golden Oldies and their intention to meet or discuss – on a monthly basis – how they can help their former school continue to thrive.

Details of the website will be published when it is ready.

Ms Jacobsen said another highlight on Thursday night was reading a poem to the Golden Oldies that she had personally selected from their year books – and having the author of the poem (Unknown Future by Roy Haylett) stand up from among the group. She read the poem to her pupils on Friday morning and said this was an example for them, even now, in its quest to envision the writer’s emerging best self – a line of questioning that she encourages.

“We are just so grateful to this group of wonderful people for their example and their care – we chose to have tables and benches to lift our students up off the ground,” she said.

The school numbers have grown from when the visitors were the pupils, and the demographic has changed completely, she said, but the ethos of the school and the excellence had been maintained.

“We are who we are as a school today because of these very people, and it was such an honour to meet them and hear their stories, and we are so grateful for the kindness of their donations and their time and effort to come and share a piece of our school history with our learners,” Ms Jacobsen said.

The Golden Oldies spent the following day on a tour through Muizenberg including a visit to the police station, which was once the site of the old high school.

* More pictures on page 9