Scottsville Primary celebrates 100 years

2015-02-07 00:00

IT has had its fair share of setbacks over the years, but Scottsville Primary School was the scene of great joy and celebration as they marked their ­centenary yesterday.

And among the guests was a particularly special group — the class of 1944.

Established in 1915 with just 43 ­pupils, the school endured numerous setbacks, ranging from closure due to heavy storms and even disease (when a case of meningitis caused them to close down the school for a month as a precaution).

Yesterday, however, the school could reflect on how they managed to bounce back, and keep growing “successful, ­disciplined and prominent individuals” who have kept Pietermaritzburg’s flag flying high.

The school has had 16 principals since its inception — the first being Miss M. Snow and currently Bobby Nefdt.

The class of 1944 were delighted to share their memories.

Audrey Laidlaw (84), who once captained the SA Hockey team, recalled how hard it was to play on a gravel field.

“During the break, we would play on a sloping field but we didn’t really care much because it was the only field we had and we were enjoying ourselves.

“There was no kitchen to warm our food and therefore we had to go to Longmarket Street. On sunny days we would walk to the Msunduzi River because there was no swimming pool at school.

“To be here brings back great memories. I’m very proud to be a product of the school.”

Brian Leisegang, also 84 and a retired lawyer, said: “It was hard to study ­during the war time but we were ­prepared for anything. We would practise hiding under the desks just in case the war came to us. It was a very good school with dedicated teachers. It is ­fitting to see it reaching 100 years.”

Former teacher Jenny Hoy (70), who taught for 26 years, said she hated retiring because the school had been part of her life for many years. “Teachers were driven by love and passion. We taught with enthusiasm and there was no ‘Thank God it’s Friday’.

“Retiring was so emotional. I had a tremendous amount of fun and was privileged to have taught at a school with such a reputation.”

Zulu was introduced to the school curriculum in 1981 for Grades 6 and 7. At the time, pupil numbers had ­exceeded 745 and 10 years later they had become a multi-racial school.

Nefdt said the transformation in the school and the influence it has in the city has been amazing.

• khanyisani.dlomo@witness.co.za

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