In 1974, a shy Std 9 pupil joined Fish Hoek High School from Bellville Hoërskool.  Initially a bit taken aback by the freedom experienced here – one could express an opinion that differed from the teacher! – she thrived in a learning community when “fun” and “learning” could be used in the same sentence, where individuality was preferred to conformity.  Friendships were formed which have lasted till today.  Despite some stiff competition she was awarded the Dux medal in 1975, and was the first ever Fish Hoek High School pupil to get an A aggregate for matric.  Somewhere in the corridors of the school some faded gold lettering on an honours board may still bear witness to Eva de Lange.

Fast forward to the next generation: her three children all received their high school education at Fish Hoek High School.  In 2006 Anneke van Belle matriculated with an A aggregate, in 2009 Jonathan was awarded the Dux and in 2013 Sylvia received the same honour, making it a family tradition.  Quack, quack, quack.

Eva, Jonathan and Sylvia van Belle of Fish Hoek. Photo supplied

Eva, Jonathan and Sylvia van Belle of Fish Hoek. Photo supplied

What has brought this about?  Genetics may have something to do with it: Eva’s husband, Jean-Paul, is a professor in Information Sysytems at UCT and has won numerous academic awards.  It resulted in a home environment where reading, expression of opinions, creativity and imaginative thought were part of everyday life from a very early age.  Individuality and doing things a different way was more important than being right.  The children thought and acted and reacted very differently – they were allowed to be different.

All three children received a solid foundation for learning at Bay Primary School before moving on to Fish Hoek High. Both schools have given them many excellent opportunities for personal development, whether academic or otherwise.  This does not mean it was all plain sailing: of course there were hard times, disagreements, disappointments.  There were times of frustration too, but there was always an open door to discuss problems with.  Disciplinary matters, when they arose, were dealt with openly and fairly, and never at the expense of the dignity of the young person.   In short, both schools created an environment in which they could thrive and achieve – should they want it.

And thrive they did, as did so many other young people have done in our valley.  The accolade Jonathan and Sylvia received at their Valedictory Services not only belonged to them, but to the whole community that brought them to this point.

Anneke has a BA (Hons) in Linguistics and is part of the editing team at a tertiary educational institution, Jonathan will be starting on his MSc in Computer Science in 2014 and Sylvia will be studying either Science or Medicine.

Article supplied.