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Mr. H.P.A.Hofmeyr – 1967 – 1978

 

Hofmeyr’s Jeppe
Mr. H.P.A. Hofmeyr
Mr. H.P.A. Hofmeyr

In January 1969, Mr H.P.A. Hofmeyr (B.Sc., B.Ed., T.T.D.) was appointed Headmaster. He had served on the staff of Potchefstroom Boys’ High School for 25 years as a Science and Mathematics teacher, and later as Vice-Principal.

 

Coming from a family steeped in the teaching profession and from a school with similar traditions, his objectives were to ensure that all spheres of Jeppe life – academic, sporting, social and cultural – were maintained and developed through the joint efforts of boys, staff, parents and Old Boys.

 

At the same time as welcoming a new Headmaster, the school took leave of Mr Greig-Gass who had served the School with distinction as a Mathematics teacher, Housemaster, Vice-Principal and Acting Headmaster for a total of 33 years. The School also shared the joy of Dr Mary McLarty, Chairman of the Governing Body, being conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, by the University of the Witwatersrand in recognition of her dedicated service to English Education in South Africa.

 

The major development of Mr Hofmeyr’s first year were a school fête in April 1967; the erection of cricket change-rooms under the Memorial Hall; the building of the turf cricket nets and the purchase of a tractor.

 

1968 dawned with the promise of extensive alterations and new buildings by the province with costs totalling 500 000 (but these failed to materialise because of the budget cut-backs!). Mr Hofmeyr travelled to the United States under the auspices of the American Field Scholars, and the staff was given a shot in the arm with the arrival of nine male teachers to start their careers at Jeppe. Mr Stan Hankey replaced Mr I. Schoeman as Vice-Principal. The appointment of two women to the permanent staff did not bring the Old Hall tumbling down!

 

The first of several Gilbert and Sullivan operettas to be directed by the Headmaster during his tenure of office took place in the Memorial Hall. The Cricket Patrons Association provided the school with a cricket professional for the first time since the retirement of Charlie Marshall.

 

The euphoria created by the influx of several young teachers was short-lived, as the College of Education and the commercial world attracted numerous members of staff away from Jeppe. This trend continued in 1969 as a deepening crisis of poor conditions of employment for teachers threatened the entire fabric of English-medium education in the Transvaal.

 

During 1970, school facilities continued to be upgraded as a result of contributions by parents to the School Development Fund. The tennis courts were resurfaced, the swimming pool change-rooms and pavilion built, and wooden rugby stands constructed. The establishment of the Johannesburg Jeppe Boys’ Choir was highlighted by country-wide performances, and a special engagement before the State President, Mr J. Fouché. A Students’ Representative Council was inaugurated. Mr R.S. Jones celebrated his 40th year on the staff. Jeppe provided the Captain and the Vice-Captain of the Nuffield Cricket Team, while four boys were selected for the Transvaal Craven Week XV. Crowning these achievements was the unique distinction of Alasdiar Stuart winning both the Mathematics and Science Olympiads.

 

Founders’ Day was celebrated in July 1972, and thousands of Old Boys gathered at the School to renew old friendships and recall bygone days. The T.E.D. phased out the A, B, and C stream system and replaced it with Differentiated Education to provide for greater specialization according to individual aptitude and interest.

 

Promises of renovation and refurbishing were not kept by the Province, and the Governing Body had to petition the Director of Education for urgent action to halt the declining physical state of the School.

 

A.F. “Scotch” McLeod retired as Vice-Principal after serving the School as Science teacher and Housemaster for 25 years.

 

The delegation to Pretoria bore fruit and 1974 saw the much-needed renovation and repainting of the School. However, promises of new Science laboratories, a three-storey classroom block, new staffroom and administration block came to nothing. Mr S. Hankey left on promotion.

 

The Jeppe Schools’ Trust was established in 1975 to raise funds to upgrade and improve facilities at the Jeppe Schools, as the likelihood of this being done by the Provincial authorities became ever more remote. These steps were taken to lead to a stabilization of the staff – urgently needed as the annual staff turnover was in the region of 50%! Mr R. Heeley became Vice-Principal.

 

1976, a fateful year in the history of South Africa, took its toll in the untimely deaths of Vice-Principal, Mr M. Stander, and Miss Rena Mitchell, School Secretary for 25 years.

 

The need for young South Africans to address the problem of improving inter-race relations featured prominently in the Headmaster’s addresses at Assembly, and those of guest speakers at the School.

 

The building of an attractive Tuck-Shop and Cricket Pavilion, aptly named The Beckwith Room, enhanced the appearance of the School and improved catering and serving facilities.

 

In May 1978, Mr S.D. Thomas, the School’s first Deputy Principal, was forced to retire because of continued ill-health. He passed away early in 979, having served the School for 25 years.
Having served as Headmaster for twelve years, Mr Hofmeyr retired in July 1978. His contribution to the School can be measured in both material and spiritual terms. He emphasised the dignity of every boy and person. He lived the kind of life he exhorted the boys to strive for. He was ever courteous, modest and considerate. His compassion and humanity left its mark on many people who came into contact with him.