Gardens Commercial High celebrates 60 years

From left are Anam Mabhokwane, Sesihle Mathimba, Eman Ibnouf who is chairperson of the RCL, Aluve Manyonya, Zenande Ngudle and La-eeq Illingworth

Gardens Commercial High School celebrated its 60th anniversary with a socially distanced event at the school on Monday, August 23.

Principal Dylan Tommy was joined by a limited number of current and former teachers and pupils, adhering to Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

“The school was established in 1961 as the Commercial High School, it was part of the Cape Technical College, and moved to the current site in 1967 and used the old buildings while they waited for a new school building. In 1969 the name was changed to Gardens Commercial High School and in 1976 building started on the new sections of the school and was completed in 1978,” Mr Tommy said.

The school became multiracial in 1990/91 and after 1994, when the curriculum changed, it continued with the commercial focus and offers subjects like accounting, economics, computer application technology and visual art.

“When I started less than 5% of the learners were “white’ (mostly Portuguese) and the staff was mostly white with a few coloured staff members. Now we only have about five white learners and one white staff member. So in terms of learners there hasn’t being must change during my time, but the staff demographics has definitely changed,” he said.

“In the last 20 years the matric pass rate has always been above 90% and most of the time it has been above 95%. In the last four years the pass rate for the rest of the grades has been about 98% with a 100% rate in some grades. During 2020 only five learners did not meet the requirements to pass at the end of the year,” said Mr Tommy who still assists with teaching classes.

A socially distanced crowd gathered at the lawns of Gardens Commercial High School.

Two former pupils, Zenande Nxesi and Hadley Harris shared their stories at the event.

“I matriculated in 2004 and one of the subjects I did was an entrepreneurship course which helped me so much. There was plenty of advantages attending this school as I do business with people who went to school here, students come from all over Cape Town so I’ve benefited when it comes to networking,” said Mr Harris who manages an automation business.

Ms Nxesi matriculated in 2010 and is a chartered account at H&M. She urged the eager pupils to constantly improve their skills.

“When you get to varsity your smarts will only benefit you so much, you need to put in the hard work,” said Ms Nxesi who grew up in Mandalay.

“Gardens commercial is the highlight of my life, the teachers was so supportive, Mr Tommy and Miss Willoughby were very supportive, and they believed in me and were very encouraging. Educators are so important and we need to give them more recognition,” the Hout Bay resident added.

Former Gardens Commercial High School pupil Zenande Nxesi speaking to the school about her career.

Grade 12 pupils La-eeq Illingworth and Eman Ibnouf said they are enjoying their final school year.

“I’m enjoying school and I know I’m going to miss this place, my friends and the teachers,” said La-eeq from Salt River.

“There is so much positivity and there is love from our teachers. As a school we are united and I’m honoured to be part of Gardens,” said Eman, an aspiring psychologist Brooklyn.

Retired teacher Trevor Lawrence taught business subjects at the school for 20 years and says he misses his teaching days.

“We had great camaraderie amongst the teachers, there was teamwork, the kids were approachable and it had an academic atmosphere, it was really nice to work here and no doubt the best years of my life.”

Gardens Commercial High School principal Dylan Tommy speaks to the crowd. From left are top Grade 12 pupil Eman Ibnouf, top Grade 11 pupil Shakirah Dhanse and top Grade 9 pupil Mazvitashe Gonondo.