Ex Arduis Florio
Through Hard work we shall achieve
|62,5km peg Peddie Road,off Main Mutare Road
Marondera, P Bag 3719, Republic of Zimbabwe
|School type||Private Co-Educational|
|Principal||Mrs A Charidza|
|Number of students||400|
|Colour(s)||Sky Blue, Beige|
|Slogan||Ex Arduis Florio|
Watershed College is a private school situated in a pastoral setting near the town of Marondera in Zimbabwe. The College provides secondary education as well as an agricultural course for girls and boys between the ages of 13 and 19.It occupies a large, aspire-built campus close to the town of Marondera, the 65 km journey from the capital Harare taking about 2 hours to drive. Its country-style setting, far from the beguilements of large towns or cities, allows students to focus fully upon their educational development.
Watershed College provides a serene boarding environment, in a pastoral setting, in which the students nurture their talents to the full. It prides itself in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere that is rare in a high school but is very conspicuous as one enters the college.
'Ex Arduis Florio' meaning Through hard work we prosper
Watershed College was born, like all other things, out of a dream. However, many dreams suffer a still birth and are never realised. What made the Watershed dream a success was the unwavering determination and single-mindedness of the founding parents.
This is a quality which has transcended the years, from 1987 when the school opened its doors to the present day. Determination and hard work have become synonymous with Watershed College.
After Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 the government prioritised education and soon most schools were burgeoning at the seams. The founding parents of Watershed decided to build a school close to the town of Marondera, a school that would capture the rustic simplicity of the natural woodlands and whose tradition would be steeped in self-discipline, self-esteem, commitment, integrity and, of course, academic and sporting excellence. The architect, Mr John Kirkman was given the task of integrating the school buildings into the natural vegetation and he did a splendid job. Watershed College grew out of Government policy of reconciliation, out of a desire to create, to build, to express the inner feelings of relief at the end of the war and the beginning of peace. It grew, most of all, out of hope and faith in a future Zimbabwe for all its people. The people who built Watershed were people with an active faith in God. They were not all Christians, but Christians were in the majority. However, the spirit of the college was not to differentiate, not to split, not to pull down but rather to join together, to accept differences, to put aside prejudice and ego and to allow God’s love to heal, to comfort and to grow.
This was certainly an ambitious dream for there was nothing except the beautiful big lemon-scented gum trees, the imposing saligna grandis gums, the primordial Msasa trees and at the site of the present workshop was a group of pine trees, proudly pointing their fingers to the skies. There was the duiker and the reedbuck that inhabited the land while the eagles kept an eternal vigil on the countryside. Tall thatching grass rustled in the wind. That was nature at its Edenic best.
Watershed College was built on a piece of land that belonged to Mr George Van Niekerk, 64 acres in extent and a paddock of his Roraima Farm. Part of the Watershed tradition, that of selflessness was hatched. Mr Van Niekerk gave the land for free. At about the same time Peddie Farm, which starts from the security fence and stretches down through the cricket field to the farm and staff houses was purchased. With the formation of the Board of Governors, sub-committees were established to choose the emblem and the motto. The owl stands for wisdom and loosely translated the motto Ex Arduis Florio means through hard work we prosper. The school colours are beige and sky blue- the colours of the sandveld soil and the clear blue skies. The concept of building the school was well received and people from all over the country and even as far as Zambia and Namibia woke up to the honourable dream of building Watershed College.
The school opened its doors on Tuesday 26 January 1987 on the second Tuesday of the first term to 89 students. The foundation stone at the Administration Block had been laid by the then Minister of Education, the Hon Dzingai Mutumbuka on Friday 23 January 1987. The first intake was remarkable for its diversity. Students, like Jason Black, were accepted with disabilities. He walked with great difficulties on crutches with callipers. Some were dyslexic while others were quite brilliant. There were 8 teachers. The target enrolment was 500 students and today, in 2011 the college enrols close to that number. The second Tuesday of the first term has been appropriately named Founders’ Day, in proud but humble recognition of the founding parents’ efforts. No solid infrastructure was in place. That the dream came to fruition was largely due to the collective spirit of the parents. To start with, parents formed lift clubs to drive the students to school. The pioneering students led a Spartan but exciting life and they took it in their stride. Such was the desire to succeed. Boys were housed in tobacco barns belonging to some of the founding fathers, including Mr Robert Knott, who is currently the chairperson of the Board of Trustees. Since the kitchen was incomplete meals were mostly braais. There were no uniforms. This was a luxury everyone dispensed with. In the course of time parents formed a Watershed Parents’ Association in order to raise funds for the school. They held dinner dances and garden lunches. Farmers carted bricks and cement to build the first classrooms. Students made their way to class over duckboards spanning foundations and between lessons teachers could help the constructing team with one founder member and Head of the English Department, Mr Bisset, driving a tractor to level the parking area. Needless to say, such dedication is now part of the rich tradition of the college.
On the advice of Mr Tom Muller, curator of the National Botanic Gardens and Herbarium in Harare a piece of the original woodland located next to the Library was enclosed in a fence for posterity. This is known as ‘’the witness area.’’ It is plain forest, meant to capture, at least in part, the original atmosphere which existed at Watershed many years ago. Imagine the tiny creatures that inhabited the area. Feel the scent of the plants. Realise the intricacies of nature and the mystical air and perhaps you may agree that Watershed is a living dream. Ally this with four locations of rock art by the San who once lived here. They are located at Zvipadze Farm. Imagine what went on in the San’s minds as they mixed the colours and deftly superimposed nature on the rocks. Be proud to admit that, like ourselves, they also had a dream. Admit that we are not the last ones here. Many will come, with even bigger dreams. This is part of the irony about life. Look at the trees, the birds and the fields. They may not be very important to you but they are landmarks in history. Future generations will strive to capture their essence, in as much as we strive to see our whole meaning from the past and wish we had fully known how it would be important in shaping our future.
In 1990 the college enrolled the first students for the Agriculture Diploma Course with Mr Peter Chard as director. On completion of the two year course students were awarded either a Diploma or a Certificate in Agriculture from the college. As a measure of the recognition awarded to the course, when the Agricultural Section held a field day in September 1990 the opening address was delivered by none other than Mr Anthony Swire-Thompson, the then Deputy President of the Commercial Farmers’ Union. During the same year the college purchased Zvipadze Farm, later renamed Watershed College Farm. In 1995, managed by Mr Gilbert Masose, the farm grew its best tobacco thus far, producing over 3000 kg/ha on dryland conditions, a notable achievement indeed.
In 1998 the Watershed College Secretarial Course began with 10 students. Examinations were written and marked overseas. Internationally recognised certificates were awarded. In 2009 the college introduced the French DELF examinations which are run by the French embassy. The following year the college scored a first. Mrs A. Charidza became the first black female to head a private school in Zimbabwe. The college has continued to strive to produce well-rounded personalities who have excelled in the various sporting and cultural activities offered by the school.
However, it has not been all plain sailing. Deaths of parents and old students have occurred. One Form One lad, Jared Steyn was taken from the college. In April 1997 one of the teachers, Sarah Buckler passed on. Another student, Shane Buckley, was electrocuted at the school in 1989 and Reynato Fernandes was fatally injured in a rugby match against Peterhouse Boys’ School. Sarah’s parents bequeathed her estate towards the chapel fund and today the majestic and imposing chapel is the focal point of Watershed College Christian Faith. The foundations of Watershed College are laid firmly on faith. To have faith is to give and to love as Jesus did and the chapel is a growth of that faith. The foundation stone of the chapel is a stone collected and brought from Medjugorje in Croatia where an amazing spiritual process has been taking place consistently since 24 June 1981. Mary, the mother of Jesus is appearing to visionaries every day.Shane Buckley’s parents also donated a sum of money towards the building of the chapel as well as a memorial trophy for achievement. Jared Steyn’s parents generously donated a trophy for Creative Writing. Old students, teachers and those associated with Watershed College have come up with numerous trophies and prizes and each year in October, Speech Night is very much anticipated as students hope to grab some of the many awards on offer.
Tradition is built on the fine achievements of the past and the college owes its very rich tradition to the founding parents and students. Fittingly, the second Tuesday of the first school term is known as Founders’ Day and is commemorated with great pomp and fanfare every year. For instance, on Tuesday 18 January 2011 to mark the college’s twenty fifth anniversary, one of the founding fathers, Mr Robert Knottt was the special guest and he planted one of twenty-five trees. Each tree stands as a proud reminder and testimony of each of the years that Watershed College has been in existence.
The under-mentioned are the men and women who formed the first staff body in 1987
Mr Tim Brown (Headmaster) Mrs J. Brown Mr L. Marowa Mrs S. Buckland Mrs S. Geach Mr I. Banda Mr S. Geach Mr D. Bisset
The academic curriculum is broad-based, starting with seventeen subjects in Form one. This provides adequate room for choice as the students move up to higher Forms. Students sit the Cambridge IGCSE examinations at the end of Form four and Cambridge‘A’ Level examinations at the end of the Upper Sixth year.In 2012 the college registered a 99% pass rate for GCE A level and 83% for IGCSE
In addition to the ‘A’ Level programme described above, the College offeres a two-year Agriculture Diploma Course. This course was designed for students to study immediately after Form four. The course was designed and operated with the on-going assistance of Hartpury College in the United Kingdom. Many students proceeded to further their education in Agriculture at Hartpury once they successfully completed the Watershed College Agriculture Diploma Course.
A fully fledged sports programme is available throughout the year. The programme is designed in such a way that each and every child is afforded the opportunity to reach their full potential in sport.
- Cross country