Cultural achievements

Thameena Hamza

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.  A sample of some of the achievements:

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 66 students have been selected for the National Band since 1995, many of whom have become professional musicians. The band has toured Europe, Britain, Zimbabwe, Namibia and all around South Africa (performing in over 20 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 9 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 and recent highlights have included Marina Pienaar’s award of Honours cum laude (she won the Best Vocalist Trophy at the Eisteddfod for 4 years and was regarded by professors at UCT and Stellenbosch as being among the best school vocalists in the country) and the Vocal Group’s attendance at the World Choir Games in Latvia in 2014. In 2016 the Stirling Chamber Choir was adjudged Best Non-Afrikaans Choir in the nationwide ATKV competition and they are preparing for the 2018 World Choir Games.

Oratory is an essential social and business skill and the Stirling Debating Team ended unbeaten in the 2013 Border Debating League. Since 2003 nine students have represented South Africa at Debating or achieved Top-Ten placings at the National Championships.

23 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.

Six 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. In 2014 Mphumzi Nontshinga was one of the six finalists in the national DALRO Arts & Culture Trust Scholarship for the Triple Threat (Drama, Dance, Singing) and in 2016 Robin Castle came 3rd in the same competition.

The Stirling Chess Team has won the Border League regularly and many Stirling students have been selected for Border Chess teams.

National representation: In the period 1985-2016, 159 (including repeat selections) Stirling students received South African national colours or the equivalent in the following cultural activities: Chess (1), Choir (2), Culture (1), Dance (23), Drama (6), Highland Dancing (1), Jazz Band (124), Oratory (9), Performing Arts (3), Photography (2)