Somerset College marks 19 years

Cutting the birthday cake, from left, are Craig Verdal-Austin, Preparatory School head; Pierre Malan, chair of the board; executive head Meg Fargher; deputy head girl, Freda Burden; deputy head boy, Cameron Knowles; and head boy, Michael Burke.

College hosted its annual Founders’ Day on Saturday, with a special ceremony for the entire school community; pupils, their parents and alumni.

The guest speaker at the ceremony was Matt Chennells, who was head boy in 2006.

Somerset College was established in 1997 as an independent English-medium, co-educational high schoo in the Cape Winelands.

The founding head of the school was David Wynne, who was appointed by the Governing Body in 1996 to oversee the establishment of the school, on what had been Vredelus farm.

The first assembly of 11 staff and 70 pupils took place on January 15, 1997. Within 10 days the first cricket match had taken place between Somerset College and SACS, thus launching the sporting programme at the school.

The college selected the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) as its matriculation examination provider – and since the first matrics of 1999, the college has enjoyed a 100% pass rate, with most pupils going on to study at a tertiary institution of their choice.

In 2015 a total of 346 distinctions were obtained by the natric class, with 99% of its candidates achieving the entry requirements to Bachelor’s degree studies.

In keeping with the key focus on outdoor education, the first “Trek” took place in January 1999.

This is a unique 27-day outdoor educational experience for Grade 9 pupils, that has since been emulated by other schools wishing to provide their students with similar formative experiences.

The first Arbor Day took place in April 1998, with 130 indigenous trees planted on the school premises. In the same year, the Boonzaier Centre, a multi-purpose hall, was built with funds donated by generous benefactors. Also in 1998, the boarding house was established, and the first boarders were enrolled at the school.

From its inception, many of the policies of the school focused on the creation of a caring and safe environment for pupil, and structures such as the tutor system, house system and grade heads were put in place to proactively facilitate the individual development of each pupil.

In 2001, the first enrolment of pupils took place in the Preparatory School. In 2003, the dedication of St Matthew’s Chapel took place, marking a key moment in the history of Somerset College. as the chapel holds a central role in the life of the school.

In 2015 the school introduced the Somerset College Cambridge Programme (SCCP).

The current executive head is Meg Fargher, and since her appointment in mid-2013, capital projects such as the building of a new Astroturf, indoor sports centre and new classrooms, lecture theatre and boardroom have taken place.

“Our purpose is to build futures and to develop young men and women of deep character,” says Ms Fargher.