Dear Old Boy

More than four hundred Old Boys, comprising some seventy different groups of matriculation had filled the Abernethy Hall to capacity. The hubbub of excited re-encounters with friends-of-yore was as great as the din which fifteen hundred boys make before the flash of the yellow lights at every school assembly. We were all back at the Best School in the World and very glad to be there!

Our Master of Ceremonies, James Orr (2009, SOL), rose to the occasion in sparkling spirit, digressing in between the formalities required of his role into nostalgic anecdotes about his years as a Solomon boarder, into colourful reminiscences of mischievous escapades, into rivalling banter with all the former Rissik and School boarders, into well researched historical insights, and into sincere praise, appreciation and dignified respect wherever necessary. He acquitted himself with excellence from seven o'clock until nearly midnight.


The Big Band, trained and conducted by William Bishop (2000, MAT), created an up-beat vibe for the evening in the execution of three brassy, foot-tapping musical items which perfectly suited the mood of the guests and of the occasion.

The Reverend Alan O'Brien (former Geography Master, Senior House Master and affectionately known as "Foxey") gave us pause for contemplation, appreciation and prayer, prior to the commencement of the excellent three-course dinner and the programme of seven speakers who were to handle the "business" of the evening.

Mr Paul "Chalkie" Sommerville (Former deputy Headmaster, cricketer and mathematician of note) proposed the Toast to Absent Friends, to those of our school community who once played meaningful roles in our land and the school's development, and who are no longer with us.

Simphiwe Petros (2008, ARM) proposed the Toast to South Africa, in which he urged us to shape our future by focussing on our past mistakes only in order to correct those mistakes, and by inspiring and leading others towards the better future which we envisage for all.


This year's Head Prefect, Justin Cross, was exemplary in his expression of his understanding of his role as a young leader, inspired by Muhammad Ali:

We are the greatest school in the world because we believe that we are the greatest school.
 We attract boys who want to be like us, to be extraordinary
 We remain the best school by becoming ever better, ever greater
 - Justin Cross 

The Chairman of the Pretoria Boys High School Old Boys Association, Jason Webber (HOF, 2008 - Head Prefect), emphasised the fact that all the Old Boys play a very important role in the School's public image, exemplified by the PBHSOB Association having recently donated R 300 000.00 to the school's bursary fund, and by their having used their social media networks of communication so successfully in organising this evening's gathering.

He informed us that the Directors of the PBHSOB Association had recently resolved that all teaching and support staff members of the school who have served five full years are henceforth eligible to be granted Honorary Life Membership of the Association and will be welcome to attend all reunions and dinners without discrimination. The first three ladies ever to attend an Old Boys Annual Dinner, and present this evening were: Mrs Joanna Holliday (HOD Advanced Programme Mathematics, Deputy Headmaster); Ms Debbie Cloete (HOD Art, Senior Housemaster); Mrs Marina Petrou (English Teacher).


The guest speaker was Mr Greg Hassenkamp (Solomon 1986 - 1990; Teacher, Senior Housemaster, Deputy Headmaster 1999 - 2013; Headmaster of Hermanus High School since) He thanked the Old Boys for their donation to Hermanus High School of three years' supply of Old Boys'/girls' ties and scarves, which enhance their pride in their school.

He then presented to Mr Reeler a lathe-turned lamp-base - the wood of a branch fallen from a Jacaranda Tree in the grounds of Boys High - which had been given to him by Mr Ed Meyer. Its rightful home, he said, is Boys High.

In his address, entitled "The unsuspecting headmaster", he described his own school career, his typically youthful waywardnesses, and the profoundly beneficial influences which Boys High had upon his own growth and professional development. It was at Boys High that he was "raised as a boy and moulded as a leader." The School made him the man he is today.
He reminded us that the School's greatness lies in it focussing on the successes of the common man, rather than on the successes of only the talented individual; it takes in ordinary boys, and turns them into extraordinary men.

The Headmaster, Mr Tony Reeler, brought the evening's proceedings to a resoundingly positive conclusion, by acknowledging the support of the Old Boys in all of the School's undertakings, and by the soundness of the school's successes:

90% of the boys study pure Mathematics
85% of the boys study Physical Sciences. These subjects give the boy's unrestricted access to tertiary studies.

The School's financial stability - despite the State's paltry contribution of only R22.3 million per annum, which covers only 18% of the running costs. 1400 places in Form I have been received for only 250 places in Form I next year.

Emphasis on the value of monastic schools, and on the importance of the sons of Old Boys, and brothers, being admitted to the School, creating continuity and sustaining our ethos and traditions.


The School is sending out into the world well balanced, well-rounded, good young men.
During the course of the evening, items of regalia and memorabilia were on sale, including Mr Schroder's recently published "A Headmaster's Story: My Life in Education" - copies of which he most obligingly signed for each purchaser, all proceeds of this evening's sales going to the Cherry Schroder Memorial Bursary Fund.

It was almost midnight before anyone left the Abernethy Hall. Linger we did, within the hall in which we had revelled in the camaraderie, the brotherhood, the pride, the memories, the friendships, the fun, the relationships... all of which we had shared again, in all the ties that bind us.

Keith Mansfield
MASTER 1997 - 2013

Click here to listen to the 100th Annual Dinner speeches >>
Click here to view the photos of the 100th Annual Dinner >>

IMAGES: Humphrey Lewis & TEXT: Keith Mansfield




Good morning members of staff, guests and boys

You have all heard the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." While I do agree that is an important philosophy to live one's life by, I found an anonymous quote online that reads as follows; "First impressions are important. While a book should not be judged by its cover, many people are unlikely to read it if the cover is not inviting."

The truth is that we naturally develop first impressions of one another, and often those first impressions determine our perception of those people, be it rightly or wrongly, at least in the short term but often for much longer. There is another old saying which says, "First impressions are lasting impressions."

As we remember the founders of our beloved School, this weekend is a good opportunity for us to reflect on the idea of first impressions and how important they really are. I would like to tell you two particular stories from my own life where a first impression played a pivotal role in what was to happen going forward.

In the middle of 2003, I was preparing for my move to high school. I attended Springvale Primary School in Centurion and the most natural next step for English-speaking children in Centurion was to go to Sutherland High School. For a while, I had quite happily accepted that, along with the vast majority of my friends and classmates, this would be the same for me. To be honest I had not given much thought about attending any high school other than Sutherland.

Now my parents always encouraged my sister and me to make our own decisions, but my Dad attended Grey College in Bloemfontein as a boy and I think he secretly wanted me to attend an all-boys school as well. He never told me this directly, but around about that time in 2003 he did arrange for me and two of my friends to be given the morning off from school to attend the Friday assembly here at Boys High.

Given that Boys High did not have an open day like most other schools, the Friday assembly was about the best he could do to give us some exposure to this School in the hopes that we would come to our senses and at least apply to more than one high school. We were excited to attend the assembly too, but not for the same reasons as my Dad. We were just happy to have been given the morning off.

We were directed to sit in the gallery and I remember feeling quite awkward sitting in amongst all the "old toppies" who were back again after 50 or 60 years. It turned out that we were attending one of the reunion assemblies. I think it was for the 50 or 60 year on group at the time.

While we were seated, the bell went to signal the end of the period and quite soon the boys started descending upon the hall. Now I use the words "descending upon" quite deliberately. At Springvale Primary, as is the case at many other schools, we had to line up outside before assembly started and march single file into the school hall without making a sound. What I was witnessing at this supposed "very good all-boys high school" was something very far from that. It felt like boys were coming from anywhere and everywhere and they were certainly not coming quietly. The Free Dictionary defines the term "descending upon" as "to arrive or attack in a sudden or overwhelming way", which seems quite accurate a description for what we were experiencing.

And then it happened. Absolute silence.

I will never forget that moment.

To be fair, the assembly we attended was a reunion assembly as I mentioned earlier, so it was naturally an amazing thing to be a part of. The School pulled out all the stops to make the reunion group feel special, as it always does. But it wasn't the proud singing of the hymn, the reminiscent speech given by the head prefect from the reunion group or even the wonderful musical item that was performed that really struck me (I can't even remember if it was the full orchestra or one of the smaller bands). What really left their mark on me were the yellow lights.

I knew in that very moment, without having to do a tour of the School or listen to the plethora of extra-mural activities available, that I was going to attend Boys High. That first impression, within about 10 or 15 minutes of us arriving at the School, meant everything. That first impression is one of the main reasons I am here speaking to you today. Had it not been for those simple yellow lights, I would possibly not have attended Boys High, the School that played such an important role in shaping me into the person I am today.

The second story is about a very different first impression. It is about a rugby match against Parktown Boys High.

I was playing lock at the time and was often required to catch the ball from a kick off. As the match started, Parktown were kicking off and we were receiving. It so happened that their flyhalf directed the ball towards me and I called out confidently that I would take the catch. This wasn't anything strange for me and in that moment I didn't have any doubts about nominating myself to secure the ball.

And then it happened, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHH"!

I will never forget that moment.

While the ball was hanging in the air I had a split second to look forward to see what was going on. One of the Parktown players was chasing the kick-off and shouting at the top of his lungs. In that moment I remember thinking he was being quite silly. What a strange thing to do. What I did not realise was that he was busy creating a first impression.

I positioned myself nicely under the ball but a split second after I caught it I got absolutely flattened. It was one of the biggest tackles I had ever taken and I remember being in quite a bit of pain after it. It really took me by surprise. That Parktown player had created on me one of the most lasting first impressions of my life. I still shudder at the thought of it.

After getting back to my feet and a few minutes more of play, we scored a try. Within moments I felt like I was having déjù vu. Once again, I was waiting for the kick off. Once again, the flyhalf directed the ball towards me and once again I heard that crazy screaming from the Parktown player. The main distinction was that this time my nomination to catch the ball was far less confident. In all honesty it was probably a little more high pitched as well.

Needless to say I couldn't keep my eyes on the ball as I kept looking at the monster in red running towards me. I would like to say that the ball slipped from my hands accidentally when I tried to catch it, but I think we all know that I had decided long before it touched my fingers that there was no way I was catching that ball. His first impression, just like the yellow lights, had created a lasting impression on me, albeit in a very different way.

At this School we are very good at first impressions. You might not fully appreciate it now, but the way you all learn to carry yourselves, neatly dressed, shirts tucked in, blazers on and buttoned, hair tidy, walking confidently and greeting guests and members of staff courteously, plays such a big role in defining not only this School, but you personally. You create an amazing first impression.

At Boys High, one of the things that sets us apart from other schools is the fact that we are not merely taught about maths and science and how to run or swim, but rather that we are taught to be well-rounded individuals with a real sense of what is truly important in life. As our moto says, "'Tis here we learn to live". So many of these "softer" life skills that you learn here are directly related to the first impressions you make in life.

At times, it may seem silly that you have to cut your hair or walk up straight. But know that as you continue to move through life you will often look back and be grateful for those little lessons learnt here and how big of an impact they have on not only other people's perceptions of you, but on your perception of yourself.

As the world becomes more and more fast-paced, where people seem to have less and less time to truly get to know someone, a first impression is often the only opportunity you have to be given the chance to make a second impression.

I wish you all the very best for every first impression you ever make.

Jason Webber (2008)



Notice is hereby given that the 2019 Annual General Meeting of the Pretoria Boys High School Old Boys' Association to be held on Wednesday, 26 June 2019 was postponed due to the quorum requirements for the meeting not being met. The Association will hold its postponed AGM at the Pretoria High School Old Boys Club, Hofmeyr Park, Lynnwood, Pretoria on Wednesday, 3 July 2019 at 18:00. The agenda for the AGM remains unchanged.

At the postponed AGM, the Members present in person or by proxy will be deemed to constitute a quorum and the meeting will proceed. All Members are therefore encouraged to either attend the meeting in person or to submit a proxy. Should you wish to appoint a proxy but be unable to identify another Member to attend the meeting and vote on your behalf, you may appoint the Association Chairman as your proxy.

The proxy form for the meeting is available for download here.



There is always a long waiting list for boys wanting to be admitted into the boarding houses. In order to make sure that we accept only boys who are suited to boarding house life, a test has been compiled for all applicants. To allow for easy marking, the correct answer will always be D.

1. What time does the first hockey team usually play?
a) 8 o'clock
b) 9 o'clock
c) 11 o'clock
d) Who cares?

2. How many matrics does it take to make microwave popcorn?
a) 1
b) 7
c) 23
d) None. It should be made when my skiv gives it to me.

3. It is lights-out on a Friday night and you have no sport tomorrow. Do you:
a) Call it a night
b) Do late prep
c) Sacrifice a Form I
d) Wreak havoc with a combination of shaving cream and pillows?

4. You accidently drop and break your skiv. What is your reaction?
a) I'm a terrible boss!
b) He was a terrible skiv!
c) Why the hell was I carrying him?
d) No worries. We have spares.

5. You have choose a skiv from a particular town. Which town do you pick?
a) Pretoria, because he knows the place
b) Benoni, because he can fend for himself
c) Witbank, so he can get some fresh air
d) I don 't care. How many sisters does he have?

6. What is the best music to blast in the dorm?
a) Jonas Brothers
b) Mika
c) Miley Cyrus
d) Anything else

7. You see your dorm buddy bunking class inside the prep cubes. Do you:
a) Bust him
b) Start throwing books at him?
c) Call him for a joke
d) Ask him to make space for you

8. You are reading a stupid article about a boarder entrance exam. Do you:
a) Go to a better article
b) Forget that D is always the right answer and not get it
c) Become fearful of boarders
d) Laugh loudly and insist the writer gets colours?

Greg Lavagna - Boys Highlights Number 13, November 2009



A Stag Luncheon will be held at the 'BURGUNDY RESTAURANT' in Hermanus on Friday 12th July 2019 starting at 12h30. It will be a casual, informal opportunity for Old Boys in the Overberg, Western Cape area to meet for some good fellowship.

Retired Judge Roger Cleaver (1953) will propose the Toast to our special "School on the Hill". An excellent menu has been selected with complimentary wine on the tables and a Cash Bar will also be available.

The Function will cost R230.00 per person and payment should be made by in advance by EFT not later than Friday 5th July. Payment should be made to:

Mr. GJ Hassenkamp Nedbank
Savings Account Acc. No. 2958321010
Branch: Rosebank/0977
Reference: Name and Surname. PBHSOB.

RSVP's should be Emailed to: cherrylynne1@hotmail.com with your Name, Surname, Matric Year and your proof of payment.

Any queries can be directed to Cherry Cell : 082 823 2283 or Ed Meyer Cell : 082 880 7604



The 13th Annual Eastern Cape Dinner will be held on 16 August 2019. Pretoria Boys High School Headmaster, Mr Reeler will travel down from Pretoria to attend the function. Old Boys on the area are encouraged to attend as this will be Mr Reeler's last visit to the PE branch as Headmaster.

Date: 16 August 2019
Time: 19:00 for 19:30
Venue: Old Grey Sports Club, 2 Lennox Street, Glendinningvale, Port Elizabeth
Price per person: R100.00 - cash bar available
Dress: Smart casual

Please RSVP to Mark Muttit mark@rcgins.co.za or 064 616 7681


New film adaptation of 'Fiela se Kind' releases first images and poster

Fiela Komoetie will be brought to life by stage actress Zenobia Kloppers with the role of Benjamin Komoetieplayed by newcomers Luca Bornman and Wayne Smith (2008).


Israel's Nobel Prize Winners: Contributing to the World

In 2013, two Israeli scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry; Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshal.


Bill Schroder at home in Pretoria, reading from his book, A Headmaster's Story: My Life in Education.


Pretoria - "I did it my way" - that is what Bill Schroder believes his book, A Headmaster's Story: My Life in Education, could have been titled. His memoir will be officially launched tomorrow at Pretoria Boys High, the school where Schroder spent 19 years as headmaster before his retirement at the end of 2009.

The book tracks Schroder's 42 years in education as a teacher and headmaster at various schools, his philosophy of a holistic approach to education, namely academics, sport, culture and pastoral care; his inimitable way of dealing with challenges; and what he would do now to address the imbalance which persists in schools 25 years after democracy - suggestions our Minister of education and Education MEC would do well to read.

After an introduction to his life in a chapter titled, from barefoot boy to head boy, he describes how he ended up teaching (not because he had a calling for the profession, but because of financial need).

He writes about his experience in a preparatory school and his move to teaching in high school, co-ed and all boys' schools, and how he came to realise his destiny: to become the headmaster of the prestigious Pretoria Boys High, despite being an "outsider".

Among the tasks Schroder undertook at Boys High, was to interview boys for places in the hostel, deal with unsavoury initiation practices, and ensure the boss-skiv system (where a young boy has an older mentor) was not open to abuse.

His time at Boys High coincided with political change in the country, including the unbanning of the ANC and the release of Nelson Mandela a month after he started, in February 1990. Boys High had already held a referendum on open admissions, but had been overruled by the education authorities at the time. Before Schroder could join a delegation to appeal, schools were offered the option of following a Model A (retaining "separate development") or Model B system (deciding on admission policy) and, finally, Model C, the option Boys High chose because of the freedom it allowed.

Schroder writes of the school's transformation journey, and how he realised the need to "be ahead of change", rather than "let the change, change us", and his determination to maintain that which Boys High represented and made it special.

Because of the size of the campus, the school voluntarily increased in size and, over the next few years grew by 100 boys a year and introduced a pre-Form 1 group, taking in boys from disadvantaged backgrounds, who followed a specially designed programme with specialists before they joined the school in Form 1 (Grade 8) the following year.

Getting ahead of other schools proved to be a master stroke, and Boys High received many accolades, but Schroder says it would not have been possible without the calibre of people he was blessed to have as Old Boys, on the governing body, on the staff, and the support of his family, especially his wife, Cherry.

"Of course we made mistakes, and some of our initiatives were rather naive," he recalls, but others such as the academic-support programmes and outreach to township schools garnered much praise from the authorities.

Schroder deals with discipline, smoking - for which he devised an ingenious solution - bunking and other misdemeanours; he reminisces about sports tours, matric dances and the associations Boys High had with schools such as Pretoria High School for Girls, Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool and Meisieskool, with a number of amusing anecdotes.

He said when it came to dealing with teenage boys, his advantage was his having been a boarder himself. Despite having an overdose of testosterone and inevitably testing boundaries, he found teenage boys to be honest, sincere, fun and actually conservative at heart. They enjoyed routine, tradition and a sense of belonging, he said.

Now in retirement, Schroder is putting his leadership style and wealth of experience to good use in mentoring at Memezelo Secondary School in Soshanguve.




Hi Mr Tony Reeler and all at PBHS,

Greetings from East London in the Eastern Cape. I am unable to attend the 100th Dinner tomorrow, but I will be with you all in spirit. I shall miss seeing again all those who still survive after all these years, having seen a number of you at the 50 years on re-union in 2001 and the 60 years on re-union in 2011.

I did not always appreciate just how privileged I was to have attended such a prestigious School, growing up as I did as a day-dog living on a farm at Lynnwood just East of Pretoria. There were always so many other attractions on the farm that I never really got involved in sport etc at School. But today I am an avid sports fan and very proud to say that I went to the BEST School in the country!!

Bob Fair suggested to my parents that I follow a career in Chartered Accountancy, and I became articled at Craggs, Purnell Kossuth and Ochse which became the Pretoria branch of Ernest & Young.

I subsequently moved to Deloitte in Port Elizabeth, where the resident partner was Gordon Reeler, Tony Reeler's uncle! Gordon Reeler became one of the major influences in my life! I subsequently moved to Vereeniging to join Terence Connaughton in partnership. He was the only boy ever to have been Head Boy twice at PBHS, another major influence in my life!! I left Vereeniging in 1975 to retire in East London.

I married Colleen in 1959 in PE and she passed to higher service in June 2015. She bore me 4 wonderful kids, of whom 3 live in EL and the other in Johannesburg.

So enjoy the dinner, and my best wishes to Tony Reeler for his forthcoming move to new climes.

Derek Miller (1951)


Purchase regalia items via the Pretoria Boys High School Old Boys' Association online shop on the AlumNet portal or email info@pbhsob.com for more information. Card and cash facilities are available at the Association Office.

Please note Regalia is only available to PBHSOB Association Life Members.

"Old Boyz" items are available to all Old Boys of Pretoria Boys High School. Life Members of the PBHSOB Association can purchase these items online. Old Boys must please email their queries to info@pbhsob.com



I am not arrogant. I do not have a big ego. I do not think too much of myself. Do not therefore judge me on my next wild statement. I think that all the members of the Form V group of 1999 are living legends and my school, Pretoria Boys High School is the place of legends. I do not say this because it sounds so loyal. I am not just repeating another cliché the whole school hears every time a Form V boy is set to leave the school. I say this because, purely on instinct, I know it.

14 January 1995. The car stops not far away from the main gate of the school. A young, unsure boy slowly opens the door and reluctantly kisses his parents goodbye. The boy, choking back a tear, makes his way to the imposing main building. The only consolation, his mom told him earlier, is two hundred and ninety other boys feel exactly the same as he does.

I have some unforgettable memories of my great school. I vividly recall how our Form I geography Master somehow felt threatened by our class. He told us in no uncertain terms that if we wanted to leave his class, his door was open for us to leave. To my (and the teacher's) amazement a boy suddenly stood up, walked towards the door, threw a piece of paper into the waste paper basket and returned to his seat. The class erupted into unrestrained laughter, and the teacher also managed a faint smile.

It is not only the memories which I will cherish forever. It is also the values, discipline and ethos we were taught as a group. When I walk down the street, it feels peculiar not to greet a passing adult. I feel untidy if my shirt is not properly tucked in. Small things, yet they all add up to build a character and personality.

I will be sad when I leave school. It will be as though something I cherished and loved for so long has died a sudden gruesome death. I will however live my life as a true Boys High boy.

17 November 1999. The car stops not far from the main gate of the school. An older, more mature boy now a young man, slowly opens the door and reluctantly waves his school goodbye. The young man, choking back a tear, makes his way to the imposing structure - the rest of his life. The only consolation, his mom told him earlier, is that two hundred and ninety young men feel exactly the same as he does.

Slabbert van Zyl, Form V - The Pretorian 1999


Click here for the latest school sports results

  • 9 July 2019 - Term 3 begins
  • 13 July 2019 - Winter Sport vs KES (H)
  • 19 - 20 July 2019 - Maritzburg College Exchange (A)
  • 27 July 2019 - Winter Sport vs AHS (H)

Click here for more



Dear Sir,

I thought it would be fitting for me to let you know about the passing of my father, Clive Randall.

He was both a student and teacher at PBHS, although both were for a short time, I think he would have liked both periods to have been longer. He had completed his O-levels in the UK when he came to SA and was originally put into Std 9. However, because of the difference in the standards between the countries, he was given the option half-way through his Std 9 year to move to matric. He did so, but often told us that he should have rather completed Std 9 first and then done matric.

Some years ago he went to his 40 years on reunion and GREATLY enjoyed it!

I was myself a student at PBHS and it certainly was some of the best years of my life. I dearly love the old school.

I've attached an obituary (similar to what was included in the funeral brochure) as well as an old photo of when he was a student at PBHS. I never knew the photo existed until recently!

Best regards,
William Randall (2003)

Click here to read the obituary >>


David Alexander Versfeld born 3 January, 1952 tragically drowned at the resort that he managed while helping someone on the 5th February 2019. He matriculated in 69/70 as far as I know.

Dave loved hiking, running and was an amazing man who often spoke fondly of his years at Pretoria Boys High School.

Kind regards,
Gwenda Versfeld (wife)



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