“Our vision is to turn Hermanus High School into a destination school. What this means is that we want the school to become a reason that people decide to move to our town. A destination is a place you want to be and that is what we are becoming,” said principal Greg Hassenkamp at this year’s Gentlemen’s Evening on Friday 16 August.
The Gentlemen’s Evening, attended by more than 170 men, aims to bring together both supporters of the school and business leaders to thank them for their support during the year and to offer them the opportunity to relax, mingle and support the school by means of an auction.
This year the men were entertained by local adventurer, Riaan Manser as he recalled his many adventures around the globe, including his bicycle ride around the edge of Africa that took him more than two and a half years to complete. A highly successful auction was held with winemaker Niels Verburg wielding the gavel.
According to Hassenkamp, continuous fundraising has become a necessity for the school as it only receives an annual contribution of R226 000 from the State. “In addition to this, close on 30% of our learners are exempted from paying school fees. This puts a lot of pressure on us to keep up the academic standards and still be able to offer learners the infrastructure needed to help us on our way to becoming a destination school. The annual budget for Hermanus High for both operational expenses and infrastructure upgrades runs to R19.6 million.
“The Gentlemen’s evening has therefore become an important event for us to raise funds for future infrastructure development at the school,” said Hassenkamp.
Some of the recent infrastructure projects included the irrigation of the rugby field in 2018 at a cost of R250 000, the painting of the school roof at R230 000 and the resurfacing and fencing of the netball courts at a cost of R75 000. The plans for the rest of this year and next year include upgrading the quads for learners to the tune of R300 000, the upgrading of the pavilion at R310 000 and the upgrading of the cricket facilities at a cost of R285 000.
Hassenkamp said one of the challenges the school faces is upgrading the facilities to accommodate the number of learners. “One of our priorities is to replace the school hall. When the school was built in 1975 there were 150 learners in the school and the hall offered ample space. But this year we have 970 learners and next year it will in excess of 1 000. A new hall will cost in the region of R8 million and we are confident that we will be able to raise the funds. When we said a few years ago we wanted to build an Astro Turf hockey field at a cost of R6 million, many doomsayers said we would never be able to do it. Well, the children playing on that field have proved them wrong,” he said to loud applause.
In conclusion, Hassenkamp said the only way in which a town school can survive is with the support of the community. “In Hermanus we are showing the way to do it. We are on our way to becoming a reason for people to move here. But for us to be successful we need the support of everyone in the community. An investment in our school is an investment in the town as a whole.”