Why do we celebrate Founders Weekend? by Kevin Thomson (Chaplain)

We celebrate Founders Weekend to give thanks to God for His provision of the schools to the community and remember the people who have been involved in the building up of the Petra schools over the last twenty four years.  Petra started as a longing in the hearts of many Christian parents to see a school established with Christian principles and able to offer good education. A motion was put forward at the Bulawayo Presbyterian Church A.G.M. in 1986 by one of the then elders Mr David Coltart to commence work on establishing a Christian School.

Three churches joined forces in this project: the Presbyterians, the Baptists and the Methodists. By 1987 the Primary School opened as Grade 1 in the Bulawayo Baptist Church, with Mrs Monica Ainscough as Headmistress, Sandy Adams as Bursar, and  Christopher Hingley as the first Chaplain.  Some of the names on the original steering committee included John Cuddington, David Coltart, Brian and Jenny Anderson, Rob and Gloria Drayton, Ian Spence and Jan Kreft.

They were supported by the technical team of Angus Burroughs, Angus Wilson, Peter Rix, Kevin Thomson and Malcolm Davidson. By December 1987 the first block, which is today’s Grade 3 and 4 block, was ready for occupancy. In January 1988 Grade one and Grade two classes took up residence in the new buildings. During this time work commenced on the second block and the fields began to be developed.

Over the years the Primary School developed and today boasts a significant complex with Hall, Administration Blocks and Departments from Grade 0 to Grade 7, including progress classes. The Headmasters who have led the school over the years include Monica Ainscough, Ray Pountney, Bafundi Mpofu, and Gibson Connick. The school operated under a Board of Governors who answered to a Trust consisting of John Cuddington, David Coltart, Dennis Payne and Brian Anderson.

As the existing school began to reach senior grades a new steering committee was established.  Some of the people involved in that committee included Rodney Capon, Raymond Tink, Lolka Bokma, Steve Leach, Victor Nakah, Malcolm Davidson and Linda Spence. The High School started with 60 pupils in Form One in 1993, using the present Grade One and Two block at the Primary School, and an old Lewis Lumber shed as the Office, until later taking over the office in the Primary School Administration Block, used as the sick bay today.  In the mid 1990’s the schools formed two separate Boards as it was felt that the schools at that time had specific and different needs from each other. This was under the chairmanship of John Cuddington and Christopher Hingley;  new chairmen followed in the years to come, including James Bunt, Gavin Davies Coleman, Richard Pope, Themba Nkomo,  Shupi Nyoni,  and Edson Ngaaseke.

The High School commenced construction of the double storey block in 1993 and the following year Forms one and two were housed in the new building. Some of the names of the first members of staff were S. Lubbe, L. Spence, M. Davidson, A. Motsi, T. McGovern, E. Anderson, S. Moyo, G. Pattison, B. Pagden, K. Thomson, M. Ndlovu, A. Davidson, C. Capon, and P. Cuddington. The Chaplains included Ray Motsi, Chris Anderson, Rob Goodwin and Farai Mbarimi. The first Headmaster, Mr Tim Middleton, arrived in the third term of 1993.  He was succeeded by Ray Pountney, Christopher Hingley, Joe Mandikate and Crispin Eley.

Today the High School has developed with some wonderful infrastructure, including Science labs, Computer labs, Sixth Form Centre, art rooms, drawing rooms and a Beit Centre and Library, along with an Administration Block. There are over 1200 pupils enrolled in the schools and a combined staff in excess of 100. It is estimated that some 3000 pupils have passed through the Petra school s over the years, many of whom are married with children and who are impacting the country and the world through life skills, values, education and faith nurtured and developed at Petra.

 At the Founders’ Weekend we pause and give God honour and glory for what He has accomplished at Petra through the labour of Trusts, Boards, the Staff, the Pupils and the Parents and the many servants of Petra along the way, both past and present, who have faithfully played their part in the schools. We join in prayer at this time too, for provision and guidance of Petra School’s future years to  come.