End of an era: Herzlia Constantia (1973 – 2020)

By Dominique Herman (Herzlia Constantia 1983 – 1989)

When I visited Herzlia Constantia a few months ago for the first time in more than 30 years, there was a hip-hop class and piano lesson happening, and a soccer game on the quad’s football pitch.

In my day, I recall having to rely largely on our conversational skills for entertainment.

The principal, Jos Horwitz, took me on a walkabout, made all the more memorable by the fact that Jos and her husband used to look after my sister, brother and me when our parents went out of town. At the time, I was in primary school at Herzlia Constantia with Jos supervising my homework and having to endure the not terribly dulcet tones of my violin practice.

Coming to the end of our stroll around the campus, we walked down a staircase that had definitely shrunk since I last traversed it. Waiting at the bottom was eight-year-old Adam Rabinowitz who was not
best pleased.

He proceeded to tick Jos off for disregarding the school rules by walking down what had been earmarked for the Covid era as an ‘up-only staircase’. Witnessing Jos apologising and telling Adam that he was absolutely right was not only an enchanting scene, but reinforced for me part of what makes a Herzlia education unique: that pupils have the confidence to engage with authority figures like that, largely attributable to how warmly figures of authority engage with them.

The closure of the school galvanised me into getting in touch with my-then principal, Jim Goodacre. There isn’t one person I know who went to Herzlia Constantia whose memories of the place don’t feature him in a starring role.

My most vivid Jim memory was the time he made one of his customary class pop-ins. He asked one of us to come up and draw on the board a small letter i with a dot on top. Then he showed us how the ‘i’ should have had two dots on top if one was to answer the question correctly. As someone who has gone on to write and copy edit as a career, I’ve never forgotten that.

I also had the supreme pleasure of visiting my Sub A teacher, Hazel Darlow, who returned to live in Scotland five years ago but happened serendipitously to be stuck in Cape Town during lockdown at her daughter Fiona’s house.

Hazel started her 22-year Herzlia Constantia career in 1979. ‘It was a lovely school,’ she said. ‘So when I had to leave when I reached 65, I was very unhappy. I would do it all over again.’

Judging from the overwhelmingly passionate response to news of the school’s closure, clearly many people feel the same way.

Published in the print edition of the December 2020/January 2021 issue.
Download the Dec/Jan issue PDF here.

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