Culture at Stirling is taken very seriously, both in the number of students participating in activities and in the excellence that our top students achieve. The following students achieved at a national level in 2022:
Tallis Hurly (Jazz Band) was selected on bass guitar for the National Schools’ Jazz Band for the second time.
Elsje Jacobs (Chess) came 10th in the U16 Girls section of the SA Junior Chess Closed Competition and was selected for the SA U16 World Youth Chess Olympiad squad for Azerbaijan. She was also selected for the SA U16 Youth Team for Botswana, as well as for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.
Jayden Harebottle (Jazz Band) was selected on alto saxophone for the National Schools’ Jazz Band for the past two years, and this year has performed at a level seldom achieved by a school student.
Brayden Kilroe (Piano) passed his Grade 8 Trinity Piano exam in 2021 with Distinction and reached the semi-finals of the Makhanda National Music Competition, participated in the Stellenbosch International Piano Symposium and Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, and was selected for the Atterbury National Piano Competition as one of the top eight in his age group in the country.
Ali Lin (Chess) came 5th in the U16 section of the SA Junior Chess Closed Competition and was selected to represent SA in the African Youth Chess Championship, where he came 6th in the U16 section.
Russell Matthews (Jazz Band) was selected on drums for the National Schools’ Jazz Band this year and performed as part of the national band at the National Youth Jazz Festival.
Keagen Meise (Chess) came 2nd in the U16 Boys section of the SA Chess Closed Competition in March and was selected for the SA team that competed in the Fide World Youth U16 Chess Olympiad in October in Azerbaijan against teams from 22 countries. He was also awarded SA colours when he travelled to Lusaka in Zambia to compete in the African Youth Chess Championships, where he came 5th.
Hannah Thorne (Dance) came 2nd in SA in the Premier category at the SA Highland Dancing Championships.
Matthew Miah (Debating) achieved the highest individual score during the national debating competition at the end of 2021.
At the East London Eisteddfod over the years, Stirling students have regularly won the trophies for Best Instrumentalist, Best Chamber Choir, Best High School Band, Best Jazz Band, Most Promising Brass Player, Best Senior Vocalist, Most Promising Senior Vocalist, Best Brass Ensemble and Best Woodwind Ensemble.
Stirling has one of the best school jazz programmes in the country and 81 students have been selected for the National Band since 1995, many of whom have become professional musicians. Three band members were selected for the 8-member national band in 2022. The band has toured Europe, Britain, Zimbabwe, Namibia and all around South Africa (performing in over 40 towns) and performs about 30 times a year at dances, community activities and varied professional venues. The band has performed at the Wigan international Jazz Festival, the Joburg Joy of Jazz festival, the Standard Bank Grahamstown Jazz Festival, the Hilton Arts Festival and many others. They have appeared on national television twice and are one of the best school jazz bands in South Africa, having received the Premier’s Award for Excellence (best junior ensemble in the Eastern Cape) twice. The band has recorded 10 CDs.
There are a variety of choirs for different types of voices and musical styles and the annual Vocal Celebration is always a spectacular show. Stirling is considered a leading school for vocal and choral teaching: in 2016 the Stirling Chamber Choir was adjudged Best Non-Afrikaans Choir in the nationwide ATKV competition and came second overall at the 2017 ATKV national finals. In 2018 they were adjudged the best choir overall in South Africa in the ATKV competition and came 5th in their category in the World Choir Games. They were again the top local choir in 2021 & 2022. Numerous past members of the choir have gone on to study and perform in opera and vocals, with 2014 matriculant Marina Pienaar’s recently awarded a scholarship to the RCM in London after her BMus distinction at Stellenbosch University.
Oratory is an essential social and business skill and the Stirling Debating Team has always done very well in the Border Debating League. Since 2003 twelve students have represented South Africa at Debating or achieved Top-Ten placings at the National Championships. The Debating team was top in the Eastern Cape in 2022.
33 Stirling dancers have received Honours cum Laude (the top award in the school) for passing their RAD or Cecchetti Advanced exams or being selected to represent South Africa in Hip-Hop Dancing. There are two major Dance Extravaganzas each year.
Ten students have been recognised with Honours cum Laude for dramatic performance considered equivalent of a national standard. Stirling students have won numerous Gold awards at the East London and Grahamstown Eisteddfodau, as well as Double Golds, Triple Golds and trophies.
The Stirling Chess Team has won the Border League regularly and many Stirling students have been selected for Border Chess teams, with 3 achieving national selection in 2022.
National representation: In the period 1985-2022, 168 (including repeat selections) Stirling students received South African national colours or the equivalent in the following cultural activities: Chess (6), Choir (30), Culture (1), Dance (33), Drama (10), Jazz Band (139), Music (4), Oratory/Debating (11), Performing Arts (3), Photography (2)