USA- Kearsney College Old Boys Times

Proud of our Past, Focused on the Future

Dear <<First Name>>
Greetings to all the USA-KCOB’s and we hope that 2016 has been a successful one so far; in Southern California we are still waiting for the promised El Niño rains while suffering through our worst drought since the start of record-keeping. The main focus of this newsletter is to keep you up to date and connected with the USA Old Boys by strengthening our virtual Kearsney network.  We also want to keep you up to date about the USA-KCOB Centenary Bursary Fund.
An appeal from the Editor
In this issue we feature Leif Gjestland, a long time and generous supporter of Kearsney, particularly of funds that allow sons of missionary parents to attend our school. Last year, Leif and Nan joined the USA-KCOB Centenary Bursary appeal. I hope you will read this article and be as inspired as I was by his story of an anonymous donor stepping up to finance his studies while at University. Without this good Samaritan, it is quite possible that Leif might not have been able to finish his studies, and thus the Tech company that he founded would never have come into being and the support that he has given to Kearsney might also not have eventuated. This is a real life example of the maxim ‘Pay it forward’.
We also feature short articles about Eric Ngoie and Jabulani Nyathi. They were both outstanding students who were able to attend Kearsney because of the bursary support that was made available to them; funds donated by people like you. I have no doubt that these two young men will go on to create fulfilling lives for themselves and their accomplishments will bring pride and honor to our school.
My family—who are scattered in the USA, Australia and New Zealand-- and I have just returned from a wonderful trip to South Africa.  We spent two days at Bothas Hill, visiting Kearsney as well as connecting with some of my old classmates. The 2016 deputy head boy, Jared Meyer, took my 13 year old grandson on a tour of the school— what an honor for young Finn! It is inspiring to see how the school is thriving under the leadership of Elwyn van den Aardweg, supported by his amazing staff. If you haven’t been there for 5 years, you’d not recognize the campus. Our school goes from strength to strength—academically, artistically and on the sports fields.
One of the great advantages that we found in visiting South Africa at this time was the extremely favorable exchange rate—it varied from 16 to 17 Rand to the dollar during our visit. An excellent meal for two, with a bottle of lovely South African wine costs $30—or less!
And of course this favorable exchange rate directly benefits our USA-KCOB Centenary Bursary Appeal. When we first envisioned this appeal, the exchange rate was closer to 11:1, and to raise the R7 million we need to fully fund a bursary (or a few partial bursaries) in perpetuity we needed to raise $600,000. With the drop in value of the Rand, that dollar figure has decreased to $437,500. This is bargain basement giving! Nobody knows which way the Rand will go, but I urge all of our old boys in the USA to open their hearts and their wallets, and make a donation to this fund now; there may never be a better time to do this. You will be making it possible for the future Eric Ngoie’s, Jabulani Nyathi’s, Wandile Linda’s—and many other current and future boys—to benefit from a Kearsney education, and by their successes, bring honor to our school.
As KCOB President Lawrence Polkinghorne said in his address at the 2015 Founders Day celebrations, ‘every donation counts—no matter how small’. A hundred donations of $100 each brings $10,000 to our bursary fund. By donating through the General Board of Global Ministries you receive a full tax deduction and it costs you nothing; every penny you give goes directly to our bursary fund. It is a simple as mailing a check.

Please be generous—there are few causes more worthy than enabling talented young boys to reap the benefits of a Kearsney education. You CAN make a difference.

As promised we have included a ‘Connections’ (catch-up) section in each issue with your News & Views.  We invite you to send any personal or KC-related information that you would like included in the next issue to Athena Fisher on or Such news might include job promotions, relocations, “hatched/matched and dispatched”, recent arrivals (or departures) of Old Boys in the USA, information that you might want our USA Old Boys to know, or perhaps a photo of KCOBs meeting up in the USA.  Your ideas and contributions are most welcome.

Carpe Diem!
Michael Hall (Gillingham 1953)
(310) 702-1636 – LA, California
Editor: The USA-KCOB Times
Chairman: USA-KCOB Centenary Bursary Fund    
Athena Fisher: Foundation Coordinator
Joy Mills-Hackmann: Foundation Director, co-Editor
Grant du Plooy: USA KCOB Branch Chair
95th Anniversary

This year Kearsney celebrates their 95th Anniversary, leaving us 5 years before the Centenary when we would like to allocate a full bursary to a talented boy who would not otherwise be will be able to attend  Kearsney. This is an invitation to you to Seize the Day!  You can get involved by clicking here.

Please click on this link for complete information on how to make a tax deductible donation to the USA-KCOB Centenary bursary through GBGM.

Leif Gjestland (Gillingham 1950)

Leif Gjestland was only able to attend Kearsney College because of the ministerial discount available to his parents who were missionaries in rural South Africa.  Three generations of Gjestlands have been involved in missionary work in Africa since the 1850s. “My parents did not have electricity or plumbing till they were over 50 years old, yet I started a software company that is the leader in its field.” 

Leif attended Kearsney from 1948 to 1950 and was awarded colours for Athletics and Rugby, “my experience at Kearsney lifted my horizons of the possible beyond measure. 
Leif moved to the United States in 1954 after a year at University of Natal (Commerce). He attended Macalester College, St.Paul Minnesota (one year) and due to excellent marks was admitted to the University of California, Berkeley where he obtained B.Sc. and MBA degrees in just four-years (having received a year's extra credit for studies at Kearsney). Leif ran out of money while in college and   a man, whom he had never met, offered to assist him financially.  All this support was arranged through correspondence with this man known by Leif’s roommate.  Leif was amazed by this generosity and says “As I've grown older one of my greatest joys is in giving.  I am very grateful for my experience at Kearsney, and would like to help others who couldn't afford it.”
“There were no courses in Computer Science when I was at University but I worked for the very first software company (Computer Usage Co.) in 1964 and then started my own software company in 1967 (many years before Microsoft, Apple etc).  It is now the oldest surviving software company in the U.S”.
Leif married Nan in 1964 and they have three children living in Michigan, California and Australia.
In 1996 Leif and Nan started investing money to build the Leif Gjestland Ministerial Fund with the Kearsney Development Trust and later also formed the David Stranack Memorial Fund in memory of his long time school friend.
Leif and Nan have been generous supporters of talented young boys from a ministerial background to access the superb education provided by Kearsney College.

Leif and Nan at their home in Santa Rosa, California

School News

Matric Results 2015


We can be justifiably proud of the results achieved by the 2015 matric students. This is the same class that established a class bursary fund as their ‘thank you’ to Kearsney.

  • 96,4% of boys received a Bachelor Degree (Matric exemption) pass (vs Bachelor Degree pass rate for all IEB schools of 85,26%);
  • 100% pass rate;
  • Three pupils made the IEB’s Outstanding Achievement and Commendable Achievement lists (more than any other independent boys’ school in KZN for the third time in the last four years). Jabulani Nyathi - Outstanding Achievement and James Hansen and Cameron Lee - Commendable Achievement;
  • 45% of Mathematics boys achieved distinctions (IEB schools’ have: 22,2%);
  • 32% of Physical Sciences boys achieved distinctions (IEB schools’ have: 16,6%). Three boys placed in the top 49 in SA. (64% of Kearsney boys wrote Physical Science);
  • It is the fifth consecutive year that Kearsney’s Maths and Science distinction rates have been approximately double those of the IEB;
  • 50% of Music and 64% of Drama boys achieved distinctions;
  • 48% of Engineering Graphics and Design boys achieved distinctions;
  • A third of the boys achieved 3 or more distinctions;
  • 226 Distinctions were received at an average of 2 distinctions per boy.

The Headmaster welcomes our new Headboy Luke Croshaw (Gillingham 2016) on the right and Deputy Headboy Jared Meyer (Pembroke 2016,) on the left


Jabulani Nyathi (Finningley 2015) a new star on the rise

Jabulani Nyathi ringing the bell after his final exam 2015

Jabulani Nyathi joined Kearsney in Grade 10 on a full bursary and achieved seven distinctions in 2015. He was our Dux student, Deputy Headboy and a member of the Kearsney Choir. He was awarded a prestigious bursary by Allan Gray Orbis Foundation to study at Stellenbosch. We are expecting more great things from Jabulani in the future – watch this space!

USA Choir Tour

It is with regret that the anticipated tour by the Kearsney Choir to participate in the Rhythms of One World Festival in New York has been cancelled. Feedback from parents showed that the 30% increase in costs would be too much at this moment in time and with the ailing Rand prices could go up further by the time the boys go on tour.

An encouraging aspect of the feedback from parents was the number of parents who were prepared to sacrifice tremendously in order to send their sons to represent the College in the United States. A national trip has been planned and the boys, parents and staff are in full preparation for it.

Centenary Plans
The Headmaster shared his Centenary vision with Michael Hall as he toured developments around campus. With the Centenary fast approaching, preparations are in full swing. The first wing of the Centenary Centre (over the road from the dining halls), is complete and an estimated completion date of the full centre is 2020. The Centre comprises a large ground floor teaching/exhibition venue and four large Mathematics classrooms on the first floor, which opened at the start of the 2016 academic year. The KCOB President Lawrence Polkinghorne speaks about the need for this new centre  in the latest Greyhound News. A decision taken after much research and input from all at Kearsney. 

Photo: (top left) Classrooms in 1945, (top right) design of new classrooms with group work layout, (bottom left) the Headmaster showing the Hall family the multipurpose classroom where the matrics will write their exams, (bottom right) design of the multipurpose classroom set up for examinations.

Photo: The Headmaster with members of the Hall family at the David Hall Conservancy, the Water Reservoir and the new Academic Block

Success Stories

Eric Ngoie (Finningley 2005) was Head Prefect and in the 1st Rugby Team and was also one of Kearsney’s talented bursary recipients. We caught up with Eric to find out where in the world he is now and to celebrate his successes.
Eric told us that he now works for Barrows and was in the London office for a year but has since moved to Cape Town with his lovely fiancé Krystel Assounga and is working as a Client Services Manager for Barrows. He and Krystel are planning to marry in 2016.

Eric agreed to assist Kearsney as a Programme Ambassador to raise awareness for Bursaries & Scholarships.
“I deeply appreciate the individual donors who paved the way to my future propelled by attending Kearsney. It is a privilege to be able to now start giving back and to support Kearsney’s bursary programme financially and as a mentor. "Thank you Eric"

Eric Ngoie (Finningley 2005) and his fiancé’ Krystel Assounga

USA KCOB News & Views

USA-KCOB T-Shirts are out and about

The Challenge:  Send us your photograph wearing your T-Shirt with an iconic USA background … 

USA-KCOB T-Shirts worn in-front of the iconic Kearsney Chapel by Kerry McMaster (Old Boy Secretary) Joy Mills-Hackmann (Foundation Director), Athena Fisher (Foundation Co-ordinator),

Jeff Kaplan (Pembroke 1962)

Michael Hall (Gillingham 1953)

Mark Peak (1980)

Berwick Drury (Pembroke, 1978), his wife and 2 sons and a friend (center) on Encinitas Beach on New Year’s Eve

Your News & Views

Pictured: Sean Coetzee (Finningley 2003), Daniel Da Silva (Gillingham 2001) and David Emanuel (Pembroke 1996) catching up at Daniel’s restaurant, “The Station S.F”, in San Francisco. If you are in the area, drop in to enjoy a coffee, a pastry or a lunchtime treat with Daniel. David will be on the Hill for his 20th reunion in June.

Wray Radford (Finningley 1989 and KCOB Executive member) and his family were on holiday in the USA in December 2015.  Wray met up with Carl Preller (Pembroke 1989). They’re seen here while visiting the Rockefeller Centre in New York.

Derek Levy (Pembroke 1970) and his wife Daisy

Derek Levy (1970 – Head of Pembroke) and his wife Daisy live in Dallas, TX met with the Headmaster, Elwyn van den Aardweg and Joy Mills-Hackmann on the Hill on 3 March.

Derek started his first grade at the age of five with Michael Bester and his twin sister Annabel. The Bester brothers John, Gavin, and Michael were his inspiration to be part of the Kearsney family.  His co 1970 Pembroke prefects were Michael Bester, Munro Bank and Derrick Crook who all and remain very close friend. Derek first met the Headmaster in San Francisco two-years ago when he and his daughter Melissa attended the KCOB dinner hosted by Leif Gjestland.

This photograph was taken on campus in 1985  Derrick Crook (Pembroke 1970), Munro Bank (Pembroke 1970), Chris Diedericks (Past Staff 1968 – 1993) and Derek Levy (Pembroke 1970). My, how we change! Munro and Derek have both settled in the USA while Derrick is a noted physician in the UK.

It’s wonderful to see our USA Old Boys making time to catch up with each other. If you have any stories and photos like this please remember to send them to Athena at:
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Finally, please listen to the Kearsney choir singing the hauntingly beautiful ‘Asimbonanga’


Asimbonanga – Johnny Clegg & Savuka
Album: Best of Live: At the Nelson Mandela Theatre
Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang’ uMandela thina (We have not seen Mandela)
Laph’ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph’ehleli khona (In the place where he is kept)
Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the Island into the Bay
We are all islands till comes the day
We cross the burning water
A seagull wings across the sea
Broken silence is what I dream
Who has the words to close the distance
Between you and me
Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge
Neil Aggett
Asimbonang ‘umfowethu thina (we have not seen our brother)
Laph’ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph’wafela khona (In the place where he died)
Hey wena (Hey you!)
Hey wena nawe (Hey you and you as well)
Siyofika nini la’ siyakhona (When will we arrive at our destination)

Message sent by the Kearsney Foundation 
Joy Mills-Hackmann (Director), Athena Fisher (Foundation Coordinator), Kerry-Lynn McMaster (Secretary) | Tel: +27(0)31 765 9600 / 28 / 27 / 50  | Fax: 086 511 0594

Kearsney College Old Main Road, Botha’s Hill, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa 3660

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Kearsney College · Old Main Road · Botha’s Hill, KwaZulu-Natal 3660 · South Africa

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