The School From The Very Beginning

The story of Muizenberg School started over a century ago when at the end of February 1898 the first forty pupils began their schooling in a wood-and-iron hall behind the Anglican Church on the Main Road. The Rev. Richard Vyvyan was the founder principal and together with Miss A. Dunlop, the state aided assistant, they began what was to become a tradition in quality education as well as build a school seen as a leader amongst schools. The front of Muizenberg Junior School today Over a hundred years ago, private funding was essential for the survival of public schools, such as MJS. The members of the local community recognized the need for the education of the local children and 53 members secured the amount required for the guarantee, on behalf of Muizenberg School.

Pupil numbers quickly increased in relation to the small facilities in which they were housed and land was sought to build a more permanent structure. A piece of land was donated by the local municipality, on which a wood and iron building was constructed. It consisted of two classrooms, teachers’ room and a latrine. The classrooms were described as “unbearably hot in summer and bitterly cold in winter”.

It was the end of 1899, and the fledgling school experienced the resignation of its first founding principal, the Rev. Vyvyan. Mr. Arthur Toft was nominated as the second principal. Pupil enrolment was now about sixty pupils. The school site was transferred to the Department of Public Education. It has remained in the possession of the state ever since. By 1901, the ‘new’ building had shown signs of wear and tear and was deemed unfit. An even more permanent school was required, because pupil numbers were growing at a steady pace as more and more families left the Transvaal to escape the Boer War.

These ‘refugees’ wanted to settle at the bright and cheerful seaside town of Muizenberg. Mr. William Lloyd was to begin as the next principal in 1902. He was to see the school through the next twenty years – a time of immense change and growth in the schools of Muizenberg. Post Boer War depression was to put financial strain on the government. Mr. Lloyd was instructed to ‘put out’ families not maintaining their school fees, an action he vehemently opposed, but he did reluctantly issue statements to the parents. The dilapidated building constantly came under criticism from many quarters and after many lost promises and failed dreams, a six-roomed, stone structure was built in 1913, fifteen years after the establishment of the Muizenberg School. Mr. Lloyd retired in 1922. He left a well-established school of 217, pupils from Sub A to Std 6, and eight teaching staff.

Upgrading Of The Schools Status

Mr. Bill Andrews followed as Principal in 1923. He was to lead the single school into the High and Primary schools and build the foundation for the growth that was to follow in the hands of those who were to hold the reins after him. It was during his time that the move to upgrade and include a senior school became a reality. As each year went by and the school had to cater for Std 6’s and then Std 7’s, extra classes were requested. This spurred the upgrading of the school’s status to Muizenberg Secondary School in January 1926, but no immediate additions were made. The school continued to grow through the pre-war 1930’s and by 1940, 450 pupils packed the building on the hill and the extra rented facilities nearby. A new site was sought for the primary part of the school. The land of the existing Park Hotel was earmarked for the Junior School. The Second World War resulted in a delay as the existing hotel was used as a rest place for soldiers. Only on 15 September 1945, was the Muizenberg Junior School building opened by Mr. Max Sonnenberg, MP.

Our young school had only five classrooms and opened for the Sub A to Std 1. These classes where held where the present principal’s office, storeroom and Grade 7 classrooms are today. Although Mr. Andrews was still the official Principal of the Muizenberg Schools, Mrs. Suter, and later Miss Slabber, acted as the Principal for the emerging Junior School. Building continued at the school, and in 1947 all, but the Std 4’s were moved from the ‘old’ building to their new classrooms in their new school.
MJS was born! Our first official principal was Mr. Bobby King. He led a school of ten staff, plus 336 pupils. With the security of their own building, MJS could develop and establish itself as a school amongst schools. Sports grew and soon rugby, netball, athletics, boxing, dancing and later, soccer, was practised on the Steenberg Municipal fields and also on the field opposite the school, where a business complex/Terry’s Furnishers now stands. In 1967, the lower part of Park Road was closed off and the adjoining land was included as part of the school grounds, allowing later building of the tennis courts and swimming pool (1974). A school library was built in 1976. All these quality additions were the result of incredible hard work by the parent community who believed in the school and showed the community their approval in the way they knew best, with their own commitment to the development of MJS facilities to add to the education received by their children.

Delivering Quality Education & Building An Excellent Staff Body

Mr. King left in 1977 to be replaced by Mr. Rex Just (1977-1990). Mr. Rob McIntyre (1990-1995) took over the reins from Mr. Just. In 1995, Mr. Andy Raven continued in the vein that those before him had – delivering quality education and building an excellent staff body. In 1998 he was replaced by Mr Mark Heidmann and in 2003, Mrs Dee Milford became MJS’s first headmistress. The growth of MJS has continued as the needs of the pupils and the community are met. Over time, the new PJ Bishop Library was built (1982). The Pre-Primary was established in 1985 and the Computer Room soon thereafter.

All this in the capable hands of our leaders over the past 100 years and more could only but make MJS a leader amongst schools. It is a school envied by others and desired by teachers in search of a place they too would be able to call ‘home’. MJS has travelled a long road and is still growing steadily.