Former ‘Zone A’ school celebrates 60 years

A picture of the first group of educators in 1956.

Previously known as the “Zone A” School, Kewtown Primary School, situated in Klapperbos Street, Kewtown, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

The school, established in 1956, was an Afrikaans medium school. It had 22 teachers, and about 700 pupils. In the year 2000 the governing body of the school decided that the school’s teaching medium would change to English, because parents wanted their children to be taught in English.

The first principal of the school was the late Reverend V.E.S Hendricks, who served until 1976, followed by the late Cornelius Kleynhans from 1976 to 1983, Raymond de Kock from 1983 to 1993, Winston Pietersen fom 1994 to 1996, Pieter Howl from 1997 to 1999, and current principal, Cecil Balie, who took over in 2000.

The school now has 15 teachers and 495 pupils.

Mr Balie joined the school in 1993 as a Grade 6 teacher, where he taught all subjects. In 2000 he took up the position as principal after Mr Howl left the school.

Mr Balie told Athlone News about challenges they have had to face. “A lot of changes took place at the school over the years such as the rationalising of teachers. Many teachers took early retirement packages because the teacher to pupil ratio was reduced to save money,” he said.

In 1993 and 1994 the school noticed that it started losing pupils because many people moved out of the area, and the school was hidden because of where it was situated. But in 2010 more parents sent their children to the school, and Mr Balie is in full hope that in 2019 the school will have more than 600 pupils. Most of the pupils are from Kewtown, Athlone, Bokmakierie, Philippi, and Khayelitsha.

When asked about the pupils they have taught at the school over the years, Mr Balie said pupils have become more outspoken and spontaneous. “It is now a modern child that we are dealing with. They have become more outspoken and spontaneous, and we need to adapt to that. They are still lovely children, we just need to find ways of adapting to them. We have to keep abreast with it and empower our children with the necessary skills for the future,” he said.

“One of the challenges that remain at the school is technology. We have computers, a lot of which are outdated and don’t work and we cannot sustain the technology that we have,” he added.

The school offers extramural activities such as ballet, netball, soccer, and speech and drama. Pupils also attend art classes at Herschel Girls’ High School, every Monday, as well as Grade 5 mathematics and literacy classes every Tuesday. Grade 2 pupils also participate in the Common Good Shine Centre literacy programme at the school every Tuesday and Thursday for pupils who need more assistance with their reading.

The school also runs a feeding scheme where pupils are given breakfast and lunch daily.

One of the longest serving staff members, Levena Roberts, 55, started at the school as a Grade 1 pupil in 1968. She later attended Mountview Senior Secondary in Hanover Park, and matriculated in 1979. In 1983 she joined the Kewtown Primary School family as an administration clerk, and has been there since.

Ms Roberts spoke to the Athlone News about her love for the school and the changes it had undergone over the years.

“At first we had three classes per grade and later one class per grade, and now we have two classes per grade. There has also been a change in the pupils that we have. Academically learners are not keen on studying. Before they would compete against each other, but now they need to be more motivated,” said Ms Roberts.

“I love this school so much, I’ve been a part of it for many years, and I feel proud to be giving back to the community after all the school has done for me as a pupil. I remember when I was in Grade 7 I had the highest marks in Athlone, across all subjects, and I was featured in the newspaper, The Herald, I think. I felt very proud of myself. This school has good teachers and really loves its learners,” she added.

Mr Balie thanked Herschel Girls’ High School, the Common Good Foundation and Shine Centre, the parents, governing body, community members, and staff, for always supporting the school.

* As part of the 60th anniversary celebration activities, the school will be hosting a reunion dance on Friday September 9, from 7pm at the Athlone civic centre. Tickets are R100, and refreshments will be served. All ex-pupils, staff, parents, and community members are welcome. For more information, call the school at 021 637 7020.