Our hearts are saddened to share that former Middle School Principal Bert Boonstra has passed away.
Mr. Boonstra held many roles while working at ASH between 1972 and 1997, from a classroom teacher to transportation director to arts center principal and middle school principal. Each role had its own meaning and own place in the school’s history, which Mr. Boonstra is so deeply a part of. While he spent many years on our campuses in The Hague, Mr. Boonstra’s hand prints are in our Wassenaar campus as well. He held the role of arts center principal when we laid the first stone for our Wassenaar campus, and he worked tirelessly to help make sure our campus was ready for all of our students for the first day of school in 1990.
His family history is intertwined with the ASH story as the entire Boonstra family across three generations have their roots at ASH. His wife Jane was a teacher at ASH for 35 years. His son Peter attended ASH for his entire school experience graduating with the class of 1981. His daughter Allison, an ASH Class of 1986 graduate, is a teacher at ASH; her daughter Justine will graduate from ASH this June, bringing the story full circle.
For so many of our alumni, just one word will bring back unforgettable memories of Mr. Boonstra and his role in their lives: Scramble. When our campus was located in Scheveningen, our students participated in a bus assignment mechanism called scramble, which was a "muster point" for unloading and reloading buses at each day's end. Famously, Mr. Boonstra is remembered as the person who gave the signal for bus departure, ringing the bell for many years for thousands of students in the daily scramble. From wearing a hat and trench coat to organizing bus monitors and even directing traffic, his deep association with this memorable #ashexperience is something that countless of our Hague campus alumni hold dear.
Mr. Boonstra was reunited with our school community during our 65 year anniversary celebrations last April 2019. As guest of honor, he opened our anniversary exhibition and shared his opening remarks with us, reflecting on the history of the school and his own unique ASH story, which we were able to audio capture here. His presence at ASH, and his words recorded, are reflections that we will forever hold dear as we keep his memory alive.
Mr. Boonstra's legacy was honored on Friday, May 29 at a closed ceremony in Wassenaar with his closest family and loved ones in attendance. Friend and colleague Robin prepared a program fitting for the event: simple, beautiful and meaningful. Son Peter delivered a heartfelt eulogy sharing Mr. Boonstra's life in the most touching of details, and his granddaughter Justine prepared a moving video that compiled together unforgettable and formative moments in his life. These tributes crafted a clear picture of the man he was, how much he was loved, and how much he meant to all who knew him.
While the ceremony was small inside, the love from the community at hand and around the world was felt by all in attendance. Adorning the pulpit stage was a beautiful flower wreath that was organized by our ASH alumni community the world over in a collective effort to honor their beloved teacher and principal. On the ribbons scrolled the words ““Rest in Peace, our beloved Dutch teacher, Scramble Director, Skier . . . ASH Alumni the world over.”
Outside the church crowds gathered in a socially distanced receiving line, where loved ones and family friends lined the street from the church to the school, to say their farewell and show their support. It was a powerful moment when Mr. Boonstra’s widow Jane realized what was happening. The spirit of the gathering and the impact this moving measure had on the family was considerable, as they drove past the gates of ASH and saw all those who came to honor the Boonstra family. Daughter Allison shares her impression below:
“Bert's funeral was beautiful. It was brilliantly composed and such a tribute to everything Bert was to us in his many roles. It was difficult for us to choose such few people to attend. We know if it had been regular times the church would have been bursting at the seams. After the service, we exited the church to a full church yard. And then as we drove past the school, hundreds more lined the street to say farewell to our amazing husband, Dad, and Opa. It's been heart wrenching, yet impossibly beautiful to realize the gift of his life, and the honor of knowing him, and the faith that he is now in eternal peace. We hope this glimpse into today brings you solace, too. We know you were with us in spirit. ”
Please share your memory of Mr. Boonstra and personal tributes to the family via this website. Your condolences will help this beloved family through the most difficult of times.