School celebrates its legacy

Khalid Desai, a former principal of Alexander Sinton High School, has been described as a progressive principal who allowed people to speak truth to power.

With three milestone commemorations being celebrated in South Africa this year, Alexander Sinton High School hosted a legacy exhibition of its own, in honour of all those who were part of the school’s history, and who helped pave the way for democracy.

On Thursday August 4, former pupils, teachers and parents, gathered in the school hall, to reminisce and share memories of the school’s rich history.

In the hall, the exhibition displayed the school’s history in photographs, newspaper articles, as well as activities currently run by the school’s Representative Council of Learners (RCL).

Teacher Fazilet Bell said: “This year is significant for us as South Africans. It is the 60th year since the 20 000-strong women’s march to the Union Buildings, the 40th year since the June 16 student uprisings, and it has been 20 years since the adoption of our Constitution. So why not celebrate our own rich legacy?

“We at Alexander Sinton have a proud history – since the school’s inception. Under the leadership of our first principal, Huxley Joshua, we performed well academically and on the sports front. Mr Joshua was a friend of a Scottish school inspector, named Alexander Sinton, who left a legacy to the school, which allowed us to move from Bakoedratulah hall near Ned Doman High School, to our premises here today.

“The academic and sporting legacy continued under Khalid Desai, who took over as principal in 1976. From Mr Desai’s time we had a progressive political history. He allowed people to speak truth to power and allowed a strong Student Representative Council (SRC) to blossom, who, alongside progressive teachers, fought for a just education system and to overthrow apartheid. Subsequent principals continued this progressive legacy, enabling staff members to become agents of change to continue to fight for a better education system for our children. Today, we stand on the shoulders of giants.”

Ms Bell is also proud that their current RCL is as active as their forerunners, and that they played a pivotal role in arranging the legacy exhibition.

Apart from the speeches, the pupils also entertained those present, with poetry, song, drama, and dance. The school’s band also performed.

Ms Bell said it was important to keep the school’s legacy alive, hence the exhibition. She is also working on a heritage magazine, which will be uploaded to the school’s website. Once this is done, the school is encouraging people to add their memories to the magazine.

Speaking at the legacy exhibition, Grade 11 pupil and RCL public relations officer, Leandra Walker, said being at an institution like Alexander Sinton High School, meant they had “big shoes to fill”.

“We hope that through our efforts in the RCL portfolios, which are welfare, environmental, heritage, cultural, sport and discipline, we can inspire and build volunteerism and compassion for our fellow human beings, as well as our fellow Sintonites. Our welfare society, using food banks and bread drives, have fed many of our own families.

“Through our current affairs department, we have fought against the closure of poor schools. We have signed petitions against the unjust treatment of principal Brian Isaacs of South Peninsula High School, who has stood by our school through the tough times. We have also started a vegetable garden with our environmental club, and the heritage society strives to make our school history more visible. We build leadership so that we can take our rightful places in civil society,” Leandra said.

Among those honoured on Thursday were Mr Desai, former teacher, Dennis Mackay, who was described as taking the school’s athletics to new heights, and current principal, Adela Domingo.