GHS celebrates with special guests
Pupils enjoy retrospective journey
History unraveled at the Queenstown Girls’ High School 147th Reunion, which was attended by Molly Bisset Brown, 97, an Old Girl who is a relative of Sir Bisset Berry, the first man who insisted on girls being accepted at Queen’s College Boys’ School in 1875.
The old school building is now the Queenstown and Frontier Museum building.
Queen’s College became a co-ed school, which later led to GHS being formed when more girls began to enrol.
Brown was accompanied by Norma (Hayes) Payne, 95, a former head girl of 1945 who was active on the school committee and contributed to raising funds for the construction of the St George’s
Hall and in the designing of the current school uniform.
They were both special guests at the birthday service on Sunday, with the class of 1997 celebrating their 25th anniversary. Class of 1997 Old Girl Dr Thulelah Takane was the guest speaker.
Her speech was preceded by a memorial reading of the names of Old Girls who had passed away in the past year, conducted by Old Queenstonia chair Karen Bassett.
School principal Theo Anaxagoras, taking the girls on a retrospective journey of the school’s history, said Sir Bisset Berry was obviously a man who was well ahead of the times.
He was not content with the girls merely being busy with crocheting skills and singing, as was the custom at that time.
He said Bisset Brown grew up on a farm in Molteno and attended a farm school. She and her brother rode their horses to school in all kinds of weather.
“From there she came to Girls’ High School for her last four years. She was an excellent tennis player and was the school’s champion.
“She married a farmer, Bisset Brown, who was named after his great grandfather, Sir Bisset Berry.
“I had recently spoken to the girls about a Dr Berry who went to the museum and banged on the door 147 years ago and said: ‘My daughters are coming here.’ This is one of his relatives.
“This is live history. From 1858 to 1875 Queen’s College only had boys. In 1875, Sir Bisset Berry was there to demand his daughter and her friend be admitted to the school and immediately the average IQ went up by 33,’’ he joked.
From that time girls attended the school, which was eventually split into boys and girls schools, with GHS moving to its present school building.
In the 1950s, Queen’s Junior and Balmoral Primary separated from the high schools.
Brown and Bisset had four children and their daughter was head girl of GHS in 1969.
Molly Bissett Brown said: “All through life, let us not forget our motto: Truth and courage.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all through life, people would say: ‘So-and-so must be all right,
she went to GHS so she must be truthful and courageous’?”
Apart from all her contributions to the school, Payne played tennis, hockey and the cello in the school’s orchestra. Two of her daughters matriculated at GHS.
Takane’s speech touched on her journey as a pupil who had
come from an abusive background to GHS without understanding English. But, thanks to the support of teachers who believed in her abilities, she emerged as one of the top achievers, both academically and in sports.
She is now has PhD in primary maths education.
Takane said: “The work educators do is often taken for granted and I want you to know we see the hard work you do. I am overjoyed to have been given this opportunity to come back and say thank you to GHS for creating an environment that contributed to the person I am today and all I have achieved.”