School honours Lions club member

Bokmakierie Primary School librarian, Shaheeda Israel; Kirstenbosch Lions Club member Ann Barr; principal Larry Lewis, and Les Salo, also a member of the Lions Club of Kirstenbosch, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to declare the school a legacy project of the Lions Club of Kirstenbosch.

Bokmakierie Primary School honoured Ann Barr, a member of the Lions Club of Kirstenbosch, for her efforts to upgrade the school.

At a ceremony on Wednesday October 30, former principal, Larry Lewis, announced that the school library was now named after Ms Barr. Mr Lewis retired earlier this year, but honouring Ms Barr was what he had planned to do all along.

Ms Barr was introduced to the school by Virginia O’Connor, a fellow Lions Club of Kirstenbosch member, in 2014. Since then, the work done by Ms Barr and her team, included an upgrade of the Grade R classroom, the establishment of a library, as well as building a food store room and stationery room.

Ms Barr also arranged for children at the school to go for eye screening and provided them with pencil boxes and stationery.

She was also instrumental in getting the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to give the school building a much-needed upgrade.

Mr Lewis said before he retired, he put the idea of honouring Ms Barr to the School Governing Body and they agreed to do it.

“She went beyond the call of duty. The pupils enjoy using the library, and it was made possible because of Ms Barr. It was only fitting that the school honours her,” Mr Lewis said.

Ms Barr said when Ms O’Connor introduced them to the school, Mr Lewis showed them around.

“At the time, the school was dilapidated, and had broken windows, among others. My first thought was that children should not experience this, and we got the department to upgrade it.

“I asked Mr Lewis then if they have a library, and all they had were two old cases with books. We got some people on board to make renovations to the room, and The Bookery provided the books. Now it operates like a proper library, with scanners and all. I even roped in my daughter and granddaughter to help with the upgrade.

“The teachers here are so dedicated. I did not do this for the acknowledgement, but my grandchildren can access a library and here they had nothing,” Ms Barr said.

Ms O’Connor lives in Athlone, and many of the children from Bokmakierie Primary belong to her church.

“I started interacting with the children and that is why I decided to introduce Ann to the school,” Ms O’Connor said.

Current principal, Michele Pinto, said she was enjoying the fruits of the labour of Ms Barr and Mr Lewis.

“We have a library assistant, and she gets training from The Bookery. There are quite a lot of activities in the library.

“The children are reading more, and they have learnt to appreciate books more. We need to encourage more reading to get the academics improving.

“The children love the library though – the environment is so inviting. I have seen how the children go in there every day. I just love it. It is important for schools to have a library – especially in communities like this,” Ms Pinto said.