Helpmekaar was the first Afrikaans school in Johannesburg. The school was started by a group of Afrikaners who wanted their children to have an alternative to English schools. The school was officially started in 1921 in the Irene Church opposite the Union Ground. Construction of the school started on 19 September 1925 with the foundation stone being laid by General Barry Hertzog. The land was donated by the Johannesburg City Council at Milner Park, Braamfontein. The slogan of the school "KOMAAN" was derived from a poem by Jan F. E. Celliers by the same title. The school badge was designed by a matric pupil of 1925, A.J. Lessing.
Literally translated 'Komaan Helpmekaar' means 'come on, help each other'.
The Helpmekaar Campus is situated on the corner of Empire and Melle Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
The school building consists of 3 parts: The old building (with the clock tower on top), the newer buildings and the terraces.
The school also has a rugby field, uniform shop, 3 tennis courts, 2 netball practice courts, 2 halls, a swimming pool and a boarding house.
Helpmekaar follows the IEB curriculum. Subjects offered include:Afrikaans Home Language
English Home Language
English First Additional Language
Mathematics Paper 3
Engineering Graphic and Design
Music (as IEB subject)
Information Technology (IT)
Computer Applied Technology (CAT)
Pupils are also given the opportunity to write the SAT, a standardised college admission test used in the United States, in Grade 11.
The school offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities including:
ATKV(Afrikaans Cultural Organisation)
General Knowledge Olympiad
Helpmekaar's school uniform has a style that forms part of the school's traditions and past. The basic uniform mainly consists of a brown blazer with a khaki jersey and white shirt, brown tie and khaki trousers or shorts for boys and a khaki dress for girls. Boys always wear caps, while girls always wear bashers. Girls do not have to wear ties during summer (except matrics; see below) and in winter they are allowed to wear long khaki pants or dark tights.
The school has special, striped blazers for learners who perform exceptionally well in academic, sports and cultural activities. Traditionally these blazers may only be worn by seniors (i.e. grade 10 to matric).
A white blazer is the highest, most honourable blazer in the school and is given to prefects, cheerleaders and the head boy and head girl to be worn on special occasions. Matrics also have special ties that are lighter than the traditional brown school tie.
The Helpie-fees (Helpie-festival) is an annual event occurring before the final exams start in November. The school takes a day off for enrichment and charity purposes. Because the school's name literally means "help each other," the learners use this day to engage with the community in various ways, such as visiting prisoners, working at soup kitchens or building parks for less fortunate children.
At the end of the Helpie-fees the learners return to the school grounds to watch the hostel boys take on the daylies in a game of rugby and participate in traditional activities such as boeresports (various games and activities forming part of Afrikaans tradition), watlemoenfees (watermelon festival) and braai (barbecue).
The Klets, Knibbel en Kykfees (Chat, Nibble and Watch festival), commonly known as the, KKK fees, gives learners the opportunity to express their creativity by participating in various cultural activities. With boat-building, debating, cupcake decorating, stand-up comedy, graffiti, poetry, rapping, idols and even paper-jet folding, it provides fun and enrichment for each Helpie involved.
Winter is rugby season and at Helpmekaar rugby is more than just a game. The whole school attends all home games to stand behind their first team and when they reach the finals everyone goes along.
The First Team Jerseys are brown and gold, whereas the other teams wear white. First Team players also have special scarves, hats and shorts that they can wear with their school uniform (mentioned above).
The Golden Boys are the official school mascots. Dressed up in brown cloaks, rugby-shorts and golden body paint, they perform at major events such as Inter-High Athletics meets, rugby games and swimming galas. Grade 10 boys are specially selected by previous Golden Boys to participate in this tradition.Mimi Coertse