Deeply rooted in a firm foundation
Willowridge High is a young school with young ideas and many talented young people who have excelled in an environment which has nurtured enthusiasm, friendship and a pioneering spirit.
We have built this ethos on the lives of four prominent South Africans who were associated with Pretoria East and the early development of the Transvaal. Our four school houses are named after them and our house badges are extracts from their original family crests.
The first of these, in historical sequence, Harry Struben, is remembered as a pioneer on the gold fields. In 1860, he started a transport business between the old ZAR capital and Natal. With the profits from this business, he bought a farm, The Willows, at that time far to the east of Pretoria.
As early as the start of 1985 a Vigilance Committee was elected at a meeting of prospective parents. Having been named the watchdogs, they monitored the progress of the new school, while the buildings started taking shape on the site that once had been a farm. It was due to their efforts that the school cottage and the trees, which give our schools its restful country atmosphere, were saved from the bulldozer.
The Committee’s activities were, however, also directed at creating an ethos for their new school and establishing a fundamental philosophy. Our school opened its doors on Wednesday 7 January 1987 to welcome the first 187 pupils in Forms One and Two. During the first term the name Willowridge High School became official and a badge needed to be designed.
Our Coat of Arms was approved by the Bureau of Heraldry in 1988 and depicts the name of the school and its inherent philosophy. The shape is that of a spade symbolising the pioneering spirit with which the school was started. The two willow trees standing on the ridge, nurturing and protecting the Tudor Rose as it blossoms represent the name of the school.
The willow trees represent growth from the firm foundations of the ridge and symbolise
the parent and teacher, while the Tudor rose identifies our English heritage and
symbolises the child at its blossoming stage of development.
The centre of the rose depicts the child’s potential being developed, while the five
barbed seeds represent the five facets of the child’s development, namely the spiritual,
the academic, the cultural, the physical and social development.
The triad formed by the two willow trees and the Tudor Rose further depicts the
protective, nurturing role of the home and school in the education of the child.
The school motto Strive with integrity and the school song cemented into words the
ethos vof our new school and the symbolic nature of our coat of arms. The words of our
school song came from the pupils, while Mrs Grobler, the grandmother of the Smith family, composed the final melody.
Eddie Penzhorn 1987 - 1990
Our first Headmaster Eddie Penzhorn who came to Willowridge High from The Glen High, had to face more than is expected. He first had to create a school before he could run it. Out of a wilderness of needs he found textbooks, equipment, desks, chairs, sports-fields, staff and pupils and molded them into the modern school we are proud of today.
Jack Birkenbach 1991 - 2004
In 1991 our second Headmaster Jack Birkenbach was appointed. After a year in office he confidently reflected upon the host of individual achievements, pupils at Willowridge High had attained in such a short time. Modestly we acknowledge that national and provincial honours are necessarily second to our fine academic results: Apart from the number of pupils who have passed with four or more distinctions in Matric, our Headmaster was proudest of our 100% matric pass-rate.
Andre du Plessis 2005 - 2016
In 2005 our third Headmaster Mr Andre du Plessis was appointed. We look to his new leadership, drive and vision to lead us to a new future. We have the talent to achieve the goals set out in our Vision Statement. May the dedication of all members of staff, ensure that the legacy of our pioneering past and to new discovery and development.
Rowan Phillips 2017 - 2021
2017 we welcomed Mr Phillips with great enthusiasm as our 4th Headmaster.
Mr Phillips joined the Willowridge family in 1987 as an English teacher, then was promoted to Head of Department English and then Deputy Principal. He was one of our proud founder teachers, that developed the school to the prestige position it holds today. His passion, insight and concern for teachers/parents and scholars alike will definitely go down in history.