Staff and pupils of Heideveld Primary are gearing up for the school’s 50th anniversary celebrations and are hard at work preparing for it.
While the children rehearsed for their upcoming concert, the Athlone News met with a group of teachers, who shared some of their fondest memories of their time there – including the challenges and the triumphs.
Crystal Petersen has been teaching at Heideveld Primary for 16 years, and is a former pupil.
She said her relationship with the school started in Grade 1 (or Sub A as it was known then). In 1985, because of the political conditions, she did not write her final matric examinations, and the following year, she wrote her supplementary examinations at Heideveld Primary School. She started her teaching career at another school, but when that school closed its doors permanently, she accepted a one-month contract at Heideveld Primary, and is still there 16 years later.
“The teacher whom I was filling in for, was initially on sick leave, and then later, she retired, so I was fortunate to be able to stay on,” Ms Petersen said.
All the teachers agree that being at Heideveld Primary, was like being part of a family.
Teacher Yolanda de Hahn said: “Here we care for one another. Everybody is friendly, and there’s a camaraderie like no other. We cry together and we laugh together. I started here 40 years ago, and I wouldn’t want to change it for anything else. I had the afternoon shift, as the school roll was very big that time.”
Ms De Hahn said years ago, the school had been known for showcasing the best concerts, and doing lots of charity work.
“One of our former principals, Bertram Johnson, was involved with the Lions Club in Kirstenbosch, and another member of that club, David Birch, used to give us the funds to host a lunch for seniors from Oakhaven Old Aged Home. We used to also have a nativity play for them and give the seniors each a gift bag. That was just one of the many charity events we had,” Ms De Hahn said.
The school is also very proud that hundreds of their former pupils have become successful in their chosen careers. They know of at least one former pupil who has a doctorate in science, who they have produced attorneys, teachers, and bankers, and teacher Leonard Cupido proudly stated that he never doubted the quality of teaching at the school, therefore all three his children received their schooling there.
Mr Cupido has been teaching at Heideveld Primary for 25 years. Former teachers of the school would always say how “lovely it was to work” at their school, he said.
Teacher Dael Wyngaard said the new school building has been a big blessing to them. The school was rebuilt when the old prefabricated building was demolished to make way for a state-of-the-art building. They moved in to the new building in 2014.
“I had no problem with the previous school building. The only thing was when we got back after weekends and school holidays, the fear was whether the school was broken into again. Since we have our new building, that has become a thing of the past,” Ms Wyngaard said.
The teachers also say that over the years, the school was led by “people’s person” principals. The current principal, Rosdien Desai, is the school’s sixth principal.
“All of them are very humane. They have everybody’s well-being at heart. If you are here, it is difficult to go away, because they made it so easy to be here. Our parent community is also very supportive. We can always count on them,” Ms De Hahn said.
Another colleague whom they will never forget, is former secretary, Sandra Jordaan.
“She is so pretty, and was always well-dressed and presentable. She was always pleasant, she knew all the children. She was the most wonderful person – soft spoken, always a smile on her face, and we never once saw her angry,” Ms De Hahn added.
Among the celebrations planned, is the school concert, on Friday September 2 and Saturday September 3, at the school hall, at 7pm. Tickets for the concert is R40 each. On Friday October 14, the school will also host its gala dinner event, also at the school hall, at 7pm. Tickets for the gala event is R140 each. For more information or tickets, contact the school at 021 637 4960 or email heideveldprimary@ gmail.com for tickets.