Pupils prepare for their night among the stars

Heinz Park Primary School Grade 7 pupils, deputy principal Nombulelo Msesiwe, and teacher Thebalami Qolo are excited about their prom on Friday November 18.

Heinz Park Primary School Grade 7 pupils are all set to be dazzled by the lights of the big city when their prom is hosted at the Cape Sun Hotel, in Cape Town on Friday November 18.

This is thanks to a partnership with the annual DStv Mitchell’s Plain Festival, of which the Plainsman is the print media partner, which has been rewarding pupils from this school for their hard work and good behaviour, for the past three years.

The festival will be held at Westridge Gardens from Friday November 25 until Sunday November 27.

Grade 7 pupil Masithembe Makabeni, 15, said she is looking forward to dressing up, having fun and trying new food.

She told the Plainsman the pupils deserved a prom because they work “very hard”. “I think it is only fair that we get this reward,” she said.

Masithembe said while even pupils who may have not toed the line should be included, “they are also part of us,” she said.

She lives with her two-year-old sister and mother. “I’ve never been to a hotel before,” said Masithembe.

“It is great being at Heinz Park – the teachers are kind and understand that we are trying our best,” she said.

DStv Mitchell’s Plain Festival staff and sponsors secure the venue, catering, transport, goodie bags and entertainment for the pupils.

In 2014, the school had to pay for two buses to transport the children to the city but since then relationships have been built and the social responsibility project of the festival has taken new dimensions and expanded.

Principal Malcolm Pinto said, based on the school community’s financial constraints, leaving the area, beating the odds and successfully matriculating is quite a feat. “This is an opportunity for the pupils to go to Cape Town for the first time, leaving the area and see things they only see on television,” he said.

Mr Pinto said when the bus drives on Nelson Mandela Boulevard, they can see Table Harbour and Robben Island, which is a stone’s throw away from the mainland. “In their minds, Robben Island is far away,” he said.

Mr Pinto said the outing allows the pupils to see possibilities beyond the boundaries of Heinz Park and Mitchell’s Plain. Last year the school had a Grade 7 pass rate of 100 percent, in 2014 they achieved 90 percent and before that it was at 60 percent so they have been making significant strides in academics.

Mr Pinto has been at Heinz Park Primary School since 2014, which is when he approached festival founder and co-ordinator Rozario Brown for help and together they have improved the morale of the school.

“The prom has given the pupils something to work towards,” said Mr Brown. He said many pupils may not reach their matric year but the prom gives them a taste of what the ball could be like.

“Now they can experience something similar and be motivated to achieve it again.

“We want to give the pupils a fairytale for one day in their lives. It is a highlight on the school’s calendar,” he said.

The pupils will also get tickets to attend the festival next weekend. This year 120 Grade 7 pupils, staff and school governing body executive members will be joined by the festival’s special guests, donors and sponsors at its annual gala dinner. These included the top brass of the SA National Defence Force, banks, businesses people, and local, provincial and national government representatives.

The festival team calls on festival goers to buy their tickets online from www.computicket.co.za or visit Computicket’s nearest outlet to avoid queuing at the event. Entry to the festival is R44 for adults; and R22 for children, aged between six and 12.

Entry is also free for pensioners and people with disabilities on presentation of their identity document or South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) card.

This year the festival offers 1 000 local job opportunities and the festival is billed as the biggest event of its kind on the Cape Flats, attracting more than 35 000 people every year.

It provides a platform for SMMEs who participate and benefit from the event, while artists, DJs, musicians and entertainers perform and entertain the crowds.

This year the weekend event promises a stellar line-up to suit the entire family, with local artists as well as prize giveaways, exhibitors and about 35 different food and beverage vendors.

The first few thousands festival goers at the gardens will receive a Nivea hamper, valued at more than R70.

Prizes totalling R500 000, including complimentary hotel accommodation; trips up Table Mountain; all expenses trip for a couple on the Blue Train, from Cape Town to Pretoria; limited food hampers, valued at R250, to worthy recipients; and gift cards from Liberty Promenade shopping centre will be given away.

More than 150 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) will sell and display their wares and services at the festival.

The SA National Defence Force is back for the sixth year as a major exhibitor at the festival, including the army, navy, air force and SA Military Health Services, and the Silver Falcons, the aerobatic display team of the South African Air Force will be in action and there will also be demonstrations of dog shows, mock attacks, gun runs and hardware displays. For details about the festival, visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/MitchellsPlainFestival