From humble beginnings, Dennegeur Primary School in Strandfontein is proud to celebrate its 30th anniversary, not only with a cake to mark the occasion, but also a new container library to underline its vision to educate and uplift its pupils and the community.
The school was established in January 1988, the second primary school in the area, a dual medium school with 25 teachers, two classes per grade until Grade 5 and 427 pupils.
It established a scholar patrol within its first years of opening, with more than 500 pupils crossing Dennegeur Avenue, to get to school.
Back then they offered needlework, handwork, music, art and physical education as practical subjects, taught by specialist teachers.
Deputy principal Gail Nefdt said they took part in many competitions and eisteddfods. “We had many successful school plays and concerts; competed and won many school athletics meetings,” she said.
Today they have a pupil complement of 957 pupils and 40 staff, including teachers, kitchen staff who feed 290 pupils daily as part of the school’s feeding scheme, a gardener, security officer and administrative staff.
She said they have athletics, soccer for boys and girls, rugby, cricket and cross country.
They have a school choir who meet every Tuesday after school and the school is looking to employ an arts and culture teacher to bring this tradition back to the school.
The school is a hub of activity with Isabel Byers School of Speech and Drama offering classes at the school, karate classes also available and two churches using the school after hours.
Principal Shaheed Gaidien said they have a waiting list for new pupils and every year they have to turn up to 40 pupils away.
Mr Gaidien said partnerships, like the one with the Mr Price Foundation, with facilitator Jimmy Slingers who focuses on training in school leadership and management and governance and with Lynn Seconds, who volunteers counselling skills and is at the school every Tuesday between 9am and 11am, help the school to thrive.
Mr Gaidien also participates in Partners for Possibility, a co-action, co-learning partnership between school principals and business leaders, enabling social cohesion through partnerships, and empowering principals to become change leaders in their schools and communities.
The programme facilitates cross-sectoral reciprocal partnerships between business, the government and the community.
It is endorsed by the Western Cape Education Department and principals are able to visit each other’s schools and taught modules as how best to use resources.
Another partner of the school is Bandle Tutoring Centre, who prepare pupils for assessment and exams, helps pupils with learning barriers, assess them for intervention programmes, and offer guidance on study methods for parents to assist their children at home.
The school invited 50 parents of at-risk pupils, who were delinquent, but only five parents pitched.
“Whenever a project come up, we welcome it with open arms,” Mr Gaidien said.
“Our school is e-ready, we have internet access throughout the school but we need to lock up the laptops and data projectors because of the fear of being burgled,” he said.
In 2005 a computer lab, with 25 computers, which had to be shared among class averages of 40 pupils, were donated to the school.
Mr Gaidien said with stringent budget costs specialists teachers and the skills they had imparted to pupils were lost. “The system now forces pupils to be academics, whereas they could have learned a trade, which would allow them to do something with their hands,” he said. “The child has lost out. The child who likes to work with his or her hands is now forced to sit in class,” he said.
However, Mr Gaidien said with all of the school’s challenges he is hopeful of being able to change one child’s life at a time.
He said with parental support and involvement a lot more could be done. “Parents do step forward when they know that their children are involved in school activities.”
On Thursday August 16 the school celebrated its anniversary with cake and this weekend, on Saturday September 15, the school will be hosting a fun day, with food stalls, activities and a car show from 9am until noon.
They will be having a bazaar on Saturday October 27 and a thanksgiving ceremony on Monday November 5. Call 021 393 3475 for more details.
On August 24 2005, Dennegeur Primary Grade 7 pupils were in a bus accident on Kloofnek, in which 40 pupils were injured, and three pupils, Shavonne Beck, Brent Stander and Angelique Johnson, all 12 years old, and the bus driver, André Lemmetjies died following a school outing to Table Mountain.