After two years of waiting, Hazendal Primary School pupils and teachers were excited to officially open their newly rebuilt school.
The school, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, launched its newly revamped premises which now has 24 classrooms and four specialist rooms, including a computer lab, a library, an art and technology room, and a room in which pupils can practice their singing and dancing.
Renovations, which cost R30 million, started in 2013 and were completed in late 2014. Due to work which still had to be done on parts of the new building, it was only launched this year.
During construction work, pupils at the school were accommodated in mobile classrooms on the premises. The “Blue School” as the old building was referred to, had been built with wood and asbestos – and had been unbearably hot during the summer months.
Warren Rossiter, who has been principal of the school for 17 years, said: “The purpose of today is to acknowledge that we are blessed with a beautiful new structure for us to work in.”
He added that parents send their children from areas outside of Hazendal because they know that it is a good school.
Zelma Van Der Ross has been teaching at the school for 30 years, having joined the staff as a Grade 1 teacher in 1986 – a position she still holds today. In her speech, she said the new building will help to develop the pupils’ potential.
“Education remains a challenge, however, this new building will be a place where our learners can develop to their full potential. In 1986 we only had 12 staff members, and now we are 26 teachers.”
“I’ve witnessed curriculum changes in 2005, and we’ve experienced behavioural challenges in our learners, but somehow we kept sailing. I remember in 1986 how we had to dodge the Casspirs on our way to school during the state of emergency, but the principal encouraged me to weather the storm.”
Previous circuit manager, Brenda Robertson, said the school had earned the new building.
“When the education department looked for schools to rebuild, I said that there is a school we need to rebuild. The community, together with the school, have really earned this. I’ve seen growth happening at this school over the years, and the new building makes it so much better. Take ownership of your school, and maintain the building,” said Ms Robertson.
“Some of the Grade 7 pupils are very disappointed to be leaving soon because of the beautiful new building. However, one of the challenges at the school remained the lack of recreational space and parking, but the pupils are very excited about the new building,” said Mr Rossiter.
Mother of two, Wendy Green, who is also the chairwoman of the school governing body, said in 2013, she enrolled her daughters for Grade 4 and 7, and while it had been a big decision to move her children to a different school, she was not at all disappointed.
“Hazendal Primary has opened a new building for future success. Modern facilities improves not only the school’s physical environment but also the learning and culture,” she said.