AZ Berman Primary celebrates 30 years

AZ Berman Primary School choir sings the school’s anthem.

Stalwart teachers recalled fond memories of how they watched from the temporary prefab classrooms as the AZ Berman Primary School building slowly went up.

They had to carry the furniture, said Cherryl May-Williams, one of the school’s founder teachers. Ms May-Williams has been at the school for all of its 30 years.

“This school has been a beacon of light in the lives of so many pupils. We pray we will continue to serve the community in that way. This school is a school of excellence,” she said at the 30th anniversary service on Wednesday March 15.

The school’s journey began in January 1993 when there was not enough room for pupils in the area, so AZ Berman was opened in 1993 with 13 teachers, about 450 pupils and two support staff who moved into 10 prefabricated classes on stony ground while the school was being built.

The school was originally known as Mitchell’s Plain No 54 under the late principal Gareth Williams, a former teacher from Imperial Primary.

The staff of AZ Berman in 1993 when the school started.
The staff, former pupils, former teachers and guests at the 30 year celebration ceremony at AZ Berman Primary School.

The staff soldiered on with their basic amenities and fondly remember how the wind would catch them as they used the prefabricated toilets at the time, said Ms May-Williams.

They moved into the school building in October 1993, Ms May-Williams said, and in January 1994 the grade 2 to 6 classes started. The grade 7s continued onto to grade 8 at the school which they kept running for a few years, she said.

Mr Williams retired in 1996, when former principal Kenneth Brown started. Current principal Mervin Stoffberg started in January 1994 as a head of department teacher. In October 1997 he was appointed principal and is currently the longest running principal with 26 years service at the school, he said.

He has taken this school to great heights, said Ms May-Williams.

Current principal of AZ Berman Primary School, Mervin Stoffberg, speaking to the crowd at the 30 year celebration ceremony.
The pupils did a spiritual dance to Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up on Wednesday March 15.

Former teacher Denver Heynes said the school continues to be in a place of transformation.

“Since 1993 this place has been a place where pupils and teachers could transform. Through this journey they have grown into beautiful people. Every person that has come through this school has played a great role in the lives of many people. Teachers play a role in transforming the pupils into great adults,” he said.

The pupils doing a dance on Mary Mary’s song called Shackles (Praise You) on Wednesday March 15.

Former pupil Shaykh Abdullaah Gabriels said this school has been creating superheroes, with knowledge and good character.

“With knowledge you can make correct decisions, but also having good character can take you far. May this school always be blessed,” he said.

Former teacher Ellenore Malgarte said she’s grateful that she could be among the pioneers of the school.

Former teacher Ellenore Malgarte said she’s grateful that she could be part of pioneering this school in the prefabricated building.

“Some of the mothers, from Mothers who Care in the community, would come and pray weekly for the school. We also remember those who’ve passed on. This school was founded on a lot of prayer. This school has grown and prospered,” she said.

The school choir singing an encouraging song in Afrikaans to the crowd on Wednesday March 15.

The late school-governing body chairperson, Lorraine Murray, has carried the school and has left a legacy, said Ms May-Williams.

Current SGB chairperson, Patricia Williams, said it is a privilege to succeed those who served at the school before.

“It’s a privilege to serve AZ Berman. My son is a product of this school. This school has helped so many in their walk of life. It’s a privilege to serve the community and may we see many more years,” she said.

Deputy chairperson of the SBG, William Hartzenberg, said: “All my children attended this school and it is a privilege to be a part of this community and school.”

Former teacher and current principal at Hillside Primary School, Carlyn Abrahams, said she was part of the founding teachers of the school.

“It was at this school that they set me up for principal. It was good to open this school and remember all the school’s awesome memories. I wish AZ Berman well on this milestone,” she said.