Beacon Hill principal leaves to take up post at education department

As outgoing principal Gregory Kannemeyer prepared to leave Beacon Hill High to take up the post of chief education specialist at the Western Cape Education Department, he was surprised with a special send-off.

The newly promoted Mr Kannemeyer was escorted into the hall by the school’s drill squad.

As circuit manager for circuit 1, Mr Kannemeyer will be overseeing 22 high schools in Mitchell’s Plain.

Mr Kannemeyer took up the post of principal at Beacon Hill High School in October 2013. His last day at school was on Wednesday June 30 when staff and pupils lined up to greet him at the gate as he left the school for the last time.

Among the changes Mr Kannemeyer implemented was the introduction of a new school uniform to restore the pride and discipline in pupils and in the school.

He also reiterated the importance of routine and structure at the school so that staff and pupils always knew how the day would go. The sports field and school were restored and renovated, and shared with the community.

The school’s library opened in 2015 thanks to support from the Nelson Mandela Legacy Fund; and two years later the school hall was opened in 2017. Construction had started in 2016 with the help of the WCED. They also had the school computer lab up and running in 2018.

And then last year, as Covid forced schools to rethink the way pupils were taught, blended learning became essential to the school’s learning process (“A new kind of learning”, Plainsman, July 24, 2020).

The school has come a long, said Mr Kannemeyer, highlighting how technology had changed classrooms, teaching and learning.

“My seven and a half years I spent at Beacon Hill High School was a journey I enjoyed thoroughly,” he said.

“The support I received from parents, teachers and pupils made my job easier. I could fulfil it. The parents were always willing to support the school. As a family we can support each other and come together, this is what I will miss.”

Acting principal Melisha Benjamin, wished Mr Kannemeyer well in his future endeavours. He was a great leader at Beacon Hill, she said.

“I am ready for the challenges. With the support of the parents, staff and pupils, we can do this,” said Ms Benjamin.

Head girl, Azraa Kazi said they would be forever grateful for what Mr Kannemeyer had done for the school and wished him well for the future.

Chairperson of Beacon Hill’s representative council of learners (RCL), Meshay Splinter, said: “Thank you for caring for us. You came and changed it for the better. You encourage us to do and be better. We hope you enjoy your time in your new space.”

Former school governing body member, Faried Cassiem said the school had grown a lot under Mr Kannemeyer’s leadership. He left big footprints in the sand, he said. “I appreciate your character sir. I am grateful for the opportunity to say thank you. We will miss you,” he said.

Pupil Sinalo Qulubha said when she started her first day of school in 2018, Mr Kannemeyer had helped her get through her first day with ease.

“I was very confused on my first day but I am grateful that our principal helped me get through the first day of school. You have always helped all of us like our parents. We appreciate your guidance and know that you will be missed,” she said.

Teacher Muneerah Hendricks said they were a family and that Mr Kannemeyer had made sure the teachers connected outside of the classroom.

“Mr Kannemeyer said to keep on running. You are our star and will watch over us. We will miss you but enjoy the new journey,” she said.

Head boy Alessio Marcus said Mr Kannemeyer was his role model.

“You inspire me every day. Your walk, you talk, your respect, your integrity, and your swag but above all your leadership cannot be touched. We will miss you for your qualities as a person,” he said.

They did not want to make it a “sad state of affairs but rather a see you later” he added.

“Even though you will be in a new job, we don’t want you to forget about Beacon Hill. You are leaving the school in an amazing condition and leaving it in capable hands,” said Alessio.

Beacon Hill High School drill squad salute former principal Gregory Kannemeyer on his last day at the school.
From left are pupils Meshay Splinters, Azraa Kazi, outgoing principal Gregory Kannemeyer, Joshua Claassen and Alessio Marcus at the farewell on Wednesday June 30.
Former principal Gregory Kannemeyer and teacher Muneerah Hendricks at his farewell ceremony in their school hall.
Head girl Azraa Kazi makes a speech at Mr Kannemeyer’s farewell.
Acting principal of Beacon Hill High School Melisha Benjamin and former principal of Beacon Hill High Schol Gregory Kannemeyer.
Ex-Beacon Hill principal and newly appointed chief education specialist for circuit 1 in Metro South, Gregory Kannemeyer.
The school parents, teachers, staff and pupils saying farewell to Mr Kannemeyer as he leaves the school for the last time.