Restoring Duneside Primary to its former glory

From left are head girl, Inam Gogela, teacher Chantal Veroni, principal Lee Hoffmann, departmental head of intermediate and senior phase teacher and former acting principal, Patrick Zimry and head boy, Ivan Osei-Tutu.

Duneside Primary School is in the process of being “restored to its former glory,” said the Westridge school’s newly-appointed principal.

Lee Hoffmann, 39, said this school will continue to be a hub for great ideas, opportunities for pupils and community empowerment. He is honoured to be serving the community of Duneside, Westridge and those in partnership with the school.

In 2019, former principal Clifford Chatteau retired and the late Celine Meyer became the acting principal but sadly succumbed to Covid-19 in 2021, (“Duneside Primary stalwart dies of Covid”, Plainsman, January 27 2021.).

Departmental head of intermediate and senior phase teacher and former acting principal, Patrick Zimry, succeeded Ms Meyer. Former and retired principal, Trevor Alexander served in 2022. Mr Hoffmann was appointed as principal in January this year.

Mr Hoffmann was also the acting principal for two years at Simon’s Town School, a combined high school and primary school. He taught at Parkhurst Primary School in Westridge from 2007 to 2015 and taught at Mitchell’s Plain School of Skills in Rocklands from 2016 to 2018.

“We are in the process of developing our flavour and identity. We take pride in our school. We’re in the process of unpacking what this school means to us,” he said.

The school has started a music programme weekly for pupils, including guitar, vocal and piano lessons, he said.

Anzio Sauls, music instructor and teacher for the school, said he is delighted to see the pupils’ progress. “You need to have a passion for what you do as well as patience. I’d remind the pupils it’s always about discipline. I love seeing the contrast of the progress from beginning to end with them. We look forward to visiting other schools,” he said.

They’ve also established a sports coach with the sole purpose to drive sporting excellence. “It’s early stages but we’ve got an incredible interest in all the school’s programmes,” he said.

Ms Meyer has been a pioneer of Duneside and the school is in the process of renewing the teachers’ lounge in honour of Ms Meyer, which will be named the Celine Meyer Lounge, said Mr Hoffmann.

“Duneside used to be a school of choice, and we want to restore the confidence of the community of Westridge to consider us as the preferred school for their children. The school needs to act as a beacon of hope and to create synergy between the community and itself,” he said.

“It’s a privilege to serve in this seat. God has given me this responsibility to lead. I believe in the power of partnership. Every person attached to this school has a contribution to make,” he said.

Teacher Chantal Veroni, 64, has been teaching at Duneside for 17 years. She joined the school in 1983, and left in 1996 when she was sick. She came back in 2019. “Our school has always been a prestigious school,” she said.

“We did things with excellence and made sure our pupils got the best education. We are even more proud of where the school is heading and the effort Mr Hoffmann has put in place for development. Good things are coming,” she said.

The school produced great former pupils such as former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs and comedian Kurt Schoonraad, to name a few, she said.

Head boy, Ivan Osei-Tutu, 13, said the school means a lot to them. “I’m blessed to be the head boy of Duneside Primary. “Everyone is kind and they make your day,” he said.

Head girl, Inam Gogela, 12, said the school has created opportunities for pupils and a great learning experience. “This is a place you can feel safe in, where you are taught many things, even things you are supposed to learn at home.”

Mr Zimry, has been teaching at Duneside for 24 years out of his 37 years of teaching and said things are changing for the better at the school. “There was a time when our school almost closed; we were about to amalgamate with Ridgeville Primary School as we had 280 pupils at a stage,” he said.

“This school means a lot to me, it’s my home. I’ve seen people coming and leaving. Some for promotions and to be principals. The school means a lot to the community too. We are looking forward to the future at Duneside Primary School,” said Mr Zimry.