Mitchell’s Plain Primary School celebrated its 40th anniversary with a thanksgiving ceremony on Thursday October 20.
They paid tribute to former principals who spoke to the pupils about never losing respect; had religious leaders, including Muslim and Christain, saying prayers; the school’s drilling squad showing off their skills; and the Grade 6 and 7 pupils forming the number 40 to mark their celebrations.
William van Graan, who was the first principal at the school, serving from 1976 until 1991, said his pride for the school was reinforced when two pupils in the playground greeted him and his wife, saying “Good morning, sir. Good morning ma’am” as they entered the school last week.
“I contrast that to what I have experienced over the last few days,” he said, describing how he had watched a group of women, while waiting for his wife, squabble among themselves.
“We are losing control. I believe in old-fashioned values,” he said. “If you show disrespect, whether big or small, it is still wrong.
“Live so you can get the best out of life,” he told the children.
“Be the best that you can be.” Mr Van Graan said he had welcomed the first class of 216 pupils at Mitchell’s Plain Primary School on October 5, 1976.
The school was known as Mitchell’s Plain Primary School No 1 because it was built on the larger tract of land being developed by City Council at the time. But three weeks before, Highlands Primary School had opened its doors – on September 13, 1976 – meaning that despite its name, Mitchell’s Plain Primary School No 1 wasn’t actually the first school in the area.
Mr Van Graan said: “I welcomed children from Lavender Hill, Walmer Estate, Claremont, Philippi and Hanover Park. They came from all over. It was then that I made up my mind that Mitchell’s Plain Primary School would be the best school in Mitchell’s Plain.”
Mr Van Graan said that after 15 years of service, the chief school inspector at the time remarked that “Mitchell’s Plain Primary school is the best school in Mitchell’s Plain”.
He said he was proud that the school has not dropped its standards, whether in academia or athletics.
Mr Van Graan was succeeded by an acting principal, Shaun Truter. Randall Josephs took the reigns from 1992 until 1998 and since then Alan Frenchman has been principal.
Mr Frenchman said there were quite a few projects ahead, for which they would need the community’s support. He encouraged the community to get in touch with the school, on the corner of Dagbreek and Park Avenues in Westridge or call 021 371 0800.