24 May 2022
Dear Ashton Family I came across a speech I delivered (as Deputy Principal) at an assembly on the first day back to school in January 2016. I would like to share an extract with you, to give you a bit of our wonderful College’s history. This is my 23rd year at Ashton College. I am so proud to say that the vision of the founders of our school is being carried and reinforced with every passing year.
This College opened in 1998 with only 50 students. Today the Ashton family consists of 880 students in Benoni and 1120 in Ballito, so you are part of a family of 2000 students, and still growing.
The founders of the school were Mrs Snelling and Mr Buys. Mrs Snelling started her teaching career in 1964 so when she started Ashton in 1998 she had many years of experience in education. She was here as Executive Principal and Director for many years, she only retired about two years ago and still lives in Boksburg. All three of her grandsons attended this school.
I am sure many of you remember Mrs Snelling; she was quite a scary lady with the most piercing blue eyes that could see right through you. She was also kind, warm and extremely passionate about education and exceptionally intelligent. Her door was always open and she made time to listen whenever you had a concern. Mrs Snelling left a legacy that will always be at the heart of Ashton College.
Mr Buys was only about 28 years old when he started this school. Imagine being so young and having such a grand vision that less than two decades later, you have gone from 50 to 2000 students. Ashton Ballito opened quite a few years after this school and Mr Buys now lives in Ballito and his two sons both attend Ashton Ballito College.
Ashton Benoni used to be a farm. Some of the school buildings are still the original farm buildings, and over the years, the new buildings have been designed to fit in with the old buildings, so that the atmosphere of the school does not change too much.
In the early days we had a resident German shepherd called Kalisty, she was very lazy, she would plonk herself down and everyone had to step over her, eventually she got too fat from students feeding her their sandwiches so she was taken off to a real farm. We also had a very inquisitive horse. He used to poke his head in the classroom windows to see what was going on. And we had lots of ducks waddling around; one of the English teachers used to lean out of her window and teach the ducks when the students irritated her, she reckoned the ducks paid better attention to her than the children. And we have had visits from quite a few rinkhaals. Mr Brown, the current Principal, once had to leap out of his classroom window after a rinkhaals followed a frog into his classroom. The rinkhaals was just going after its lunch of course.
I would however like you to take away with you today the reminder that we are all part of the Ashton family, part of the Ashton story, and I will end with a quote from Mrs Snelling: “Excellence is not something to which you are entitled, it is not bestowed upon you, and it cannot be inherited. Excellence is something that comes through hard work. So strive for excellence, believe in yourself.”