Bloubergrant Pre-primary School is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a fete on Saturday March 25.
The school opened on Thursday February 12 1987 with only 75 pupils. It had no fence or garden. Today it has 125 pupils with 12 staff and a big playground.
Principal Denelda van Gent has been with the school for 29 years and recalls a time when scorpions roamed the grounds.
“There was only the building. There were no walls and there were some scorpions around. But we had a strong parent teacher committee who fund-raised everything that was needed.”
Pointing to a massive tree overlooking the play area, she recalled the day it was planted and laughed at the lengths they had gone to to ensure its survival.
“I used to shout ‘don’t hang on the branches’. Children will hang on anything,” she laughed.
Beside the tree, a massive sandpit dominates the centre of the playground, and it is clearly a favourite with the little ones.
Ms Van Gent paged through some of the school’s old photo albums filled with pictures of painted faces at fetes and fancy dress parties. There were even some of the tree, freshly planted, barely half a metre high and flimsy looking.
“You look at some of these pictures and wonder where are you now?” she said. Quite a few of their boys, she said, had gone on to become Milnerton High School head boys.
She said teamwork was the secret to the school’s success.
“We share each other’s lives. If you have a happy, relaxed teacher, you have a happy, relaxed child.”
Ms Van Gent’s own beginnings with the school were somewhat serendipitous.
“I was driving around one day and I saw the school. I stopped to check it out but most of the children were out on an outing and only one of the parents was here. There was no one answering the phone, and I just started helping out. Two days later, they called me back and offered me a job.”
Ms Van Gent, a qualified teacher, had welcomed the offer. Now, 29 years later, she is putting her chalk down and bidding farewell to the school.
“Sometimes you need to move on. New blood and new ideas are important,” she said.
She plans to help underprivileged schools and become a victim support volunteer at the Bothasig police station.
Val Tomlinson has been teaching at the school for 21 years and will be replacing Ms Van Gent as the principal.
“It’s all gone incredibly fast and to see the school going from strength to strength is always exciting,” said Ms Tomlinson.
“The most rewarding thing for us is that our children are always happy.”
The fete this Saturday March 25, will include games, entertainment and a fancy dress competition. Additional parking will be available at Bloubergrant High School. Contact 021 557 5500 or email admin@ bloubergrantpreprimary.co.za for more inforamtion.
* Like Bloubergrant Pre-primary School, Tabletalk also celebrates its 30th birthday this year. If you have any old newspaper clippings or pictures of your area that you would like to share, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call 021 488 4619.