Erica celebrates 133 years, new principal

Pupils celebrate Erica Girls Primary’s birthday with the school’s new principal, Bev Coetzee Picture: Fredlin Adriaan
Pupils celebrate Erica Girls Primary’s birthday with the school’s new principal, Bev Coetzee Picture: Fredlin Adriaan

Erica Girls Primary school in Nelson Mandela Bay has had a two-fold celebration after the school turned 133 last week Friday – and four days earlier appointed Bev Coetzee as its new principal. The festivities hosted the first-ever old girl reunion, comprising of 14 ladies from the Grade 7 class of 1991.

The school band entertained guests and pupils alike during its assembly.

Coetzee, who has taught at the school for 26 years and has acted as the deputy principal, said it was lovely to see those who attended the school 25 years ago.

“Lots has changed in the education system but our school has not,” Coetzee said.

“It has that same girl feeling, the love and family warmth. It’s important to give the girls a basic foundation and provide the right environment. That will never change.”

The school said it prided itself on excellency in academics and extramural activities which include swimming, hockey, athletics and netball, while arts and music are also an important component.

Erica first opened with 604 pupils and 35 staff members, excluding teachers for extramural subjects.

The prestigious girls’ school in Bayview Avenue, Mount Croix was founded by Mary Anne van Wyk in 1889 and was first situated in Irvine Street, Central.

Between 1898 and 1958, Erica was a combined school for both girls and boys.

Later, the school moved into a small cottage in Mackay Street, and then moved to its present location in October 1980.

Since the school opened its doors to the public, it has had 12 principals – ten women and two men.

Coetzee said: “We want to educate the girls so that they can stand up with confidence when [going] into any job.

“They must learn to believe in themselves and take risks and put themselves on the right path of success.

“This ethos of our school must not change because it is working. I feel strongly about it.

“It has worked for so many years. The whole issue of caring and nurturing girls,” she said.

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