Harvester Primary School has once again taken top honours in the prestigious ninth annual South African Police Service (SAPS) Schools Marching and Drilling competition, held at Stephen Reagon sports field, in Westridge, on Saturday October 15.
This is the second win in a row for the Westridge school, who won all of the competition’s titles, including best dress, grand march pass, drum major and exhibition.
They beat their 12 primary school competitors, including schools from Steenberg, Elsies River and four schools from Port Elizabeth.
Last year, Harvester’s squad won the Go Big Nelson Mandela Bay school marching competition, in Port Elizabeth.
In the high schools’ division, Tafelsig High School was the overall winner, beating Elsies River High School in all categories, except best dress.
The 60 Harvester Primary pupils, between Grade 3 and 7, moved the crowd and have been enthralling their community for more than two years with their compulsory weekly Saturday practice sessions from 9am until noon.
Teacher and drill squad co-
ordinator Wilhelmina Titus said it was a team effort, including the pupils, teachers, parents, the school governing body (SGB) and school management team.
“It takes hard work, dedication and commitment. A lot of time is needed to prepare and practise,” she said.
Ms Titus said practice does not compromise school work.
She said drill master Dawood Davids, a support staff member, had been amazing in putting in the hours and helping the pupils.
Most of the pupils volunteer to be part of the drill squad but there are a few exceptions where pupils are assigned to join for discipline.
Harvester Primary School has won and participated in several competitions in Port Elizabeth and Ceres and is looking forward to representing Western Cape schools in PE following the weekend’s competition.
They do demonstrations at the local day hospital, community events, the DStv Mitchell’s Plain Festival and at the Navy Festival last year. They also took part in the Cape Military Tattoo at the Castle of Good Hope in 2014 and also perform with the ministrel troop, Extreme Coons.
Ms Titus said the community and parents show their support by attending weekly practice runs and get the pessimists to realise the youth are being kept busy constructively in the sport.
She invites other schools to attend their practice sessions.
“We are not selfish to share skills, information and expertise, whether it is with uniform or moves,” she said.
The school first participated in the competition last year and won.
Ms Titus said the standard of the competition has improved tremendously.
“Competition is very tight and it is tough doing things in unison. This can only be achieved if everyone shows up, does their best and practices regularly,” she said.
The school’s junior squad, Grade 3 pupils, opened the drilling competition on Saturda.
They have the opportunity to make the senior squad when they show good skill and when Grade 7 pupils go to high school.
Ms Titus appealed for sponsors as uniforms and transport are expensive.
“We try not to tax parents too much,” she said.
She thanked the community for enduring the weekly drum beating.
Grade 7 pupil Kauthar Jacobs, 13, who joined the squad with her friends two years ago, said the drill squad was always a big influence for her.
She was encouraged by her peers’ discipline at school and commitment to their school work.
“I enjoyed performing at the competition. You feel important and amazing because everyone is watching you,” she said.
Kauthar said her school won because of their posture, dress, march pass and exhibition, which was drilled into them by Mr Davids.
The competition is the brainchild of Major General Jeremy Vearey, SAPS Cape Town cluster commander, and forms part of the social crime unit of SAPS to help schools address troubled youth at the school.
But the team activity has evolved and most of the participants are now volunteers who want to form part of the programme, which includes youth at risk projects.
In the drilling, young people are taught discipline by adhering to commands and authority.
There is also an inherent focus on team work, creativity and attention to details and cleanliness.
The competition consists of different categories whereupon teams are judged, including best dress, grand march pass, drum major, exhibition and overall.
All the categories focus on different disciplines and skills.