School rocks their 40th anniversary

Bradwyn Adams, a former pupil of Rocklands Primary School, brought along his band.

Healthy minds, healthy bodies and a healthy environment is the ethos that Rocklands Primary School, with their distinctive maroon and gold uniform, has been instilling in their school community for the past 40 years.

The school opened its doors as Number 33 on April 4 1979, operating from the premises of nearby Rocklands High School with Mr RJ Van Boom as principal and with 532 pupils.

In January 1980 the school’s name was changed to Rocklands Primary School and the school moved from the high school grounds to its current location on the corner of Park Avenue and Capricorn Street.

Neville November was principal from 1980 to 1988, followed by Clive Schippers, from 1989 to 1996. Handwork and geography teacher Kevin Pretorius took over as principal in 1996, a position he still holds to this day.

On Friday March 8, the school kicked off its 40th anniversary celebrations with a Mr and Mrs Rocklands show and on Saturday March 9 the school had a family fun day with staff, pupils and alumni in its courtyard.

Grade 3 teacher Zulpha Benjamin, who joined the school in February, said she was welcomed with warm hearts. Ms Benjamin taught in Dubai before she joined Rocklands Primary.

“Everybody was approachable and I felt at home. There are so many women at this school, 27 and four men, and for that I feel even more at home.” When she walked into the assembly, the pupils hugged her with love, she said.

“The school starts their day with a prayer. They’re very punctual with everything they do,” said Ms Benjamin.

Head girl Kezia Wehr, 12, said she loves wearing her uniform to school. “Everyone is respectful at school. I learned how to be a good leader, show respect and treat people with kindness.” She wants to become a gynaecologist when she grows up.

Teacher Tasneem Conradie who taught her in Grade 5 is Kezia’s role mode and the person she said who has guided her leadership ability. “I am very proud to be part of the legacy of this school,” said Kezia.

Deputy principal, Thoraiya Hassiem, started teaching at the school in January 1980. “Those years there weren’t many primary schools around so we ended up with massive classes with about 60 pupils in a class. Half of the teachers who were with us before we moved, went to other schools when we received the new space,” said Ms Hassiem.

One of the renowned alumni at Rocklands Primary, is Ms Hassiem’s son, swimmer and Paralympian Achmat Hassiem.

In 2006 Achmat’s righ leg was severed by a four-and-a-half metre long great white shark while he was training for lifesaving exams at Muizenberg Beach with his brother, Tariq.

Achmat, who began swimming at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa following his accident, competed at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing and the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London.

“I have been at this school for 39 years, this school has become my second family, it’s not my colleagues it’s my family. That makes you come back all the time. The alumni shouldn’t forget where they come from, they should plough back as much as they can,” said Ms Hassiem.

Mr Pretorius has been with the school for 36 years, having joined Rocklands Primary in 1983. He taught at Bridgetown High School in Athlone from 1980 to1982. Mr Pretorius will be retiring in June this year, he said.

Talking about the school’s philosophy, Mr Pretorius said: “By achieving this we are focusing on the child holistically

They are very proud of their award-winning biodiverse garden that retired teacher Terosita Cheemee created. “We have created an environment of gardening and recycling since the school started,” said Mr Pretorius.

“This school is like my family. My time in office has been blessed.

“The pupils have crept into my heart and they stay there. It has been a privilege sharing my life with this school. Former principals, Mr November and Mr Schippers are men with integrity and they’ve taught me what was important in life,” said Mr Pretorius.

The school is thankful for the support over the celebratory period of the 40-year anniversary celebration. “We are grateful to our parents and friends for their support over the weekend. This is the first of many events to come this year. We are looking forward to parents joining in on other events to come,” said Mr Pretorius.

For details, call the school on 021 392 2010, email admin@ visit