Paterson High class of ‘69 to celebrate at 50-year reunion

2019-09-18 06:00
A few of the Paterson High School Class of ‘69 members at a recent get together. Back from left are Ernie Bergins, Clive Kivido, Pravin Nagar, Melville Hoffman, John Camphor and Arthur du Plessis. Front from left are Brian Kivido, Gavin Baartzes, Pralene Botha, Shirley Perils and Brian August.                            Photo:SUPPLIED

A few of the Paterson High School Class of ‘69 members at a recent get together. Back from left are Ernie Bergins, Clive Kivido, Pravin Nagar, Melville Hoffman, John Camphor and Arthur du Plessis. Front from left are Brian Kivido, Gavin Baartzes, Pralene Botha, Shirley Perils and Brian August. Photo:SUPPLIED

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THE Paterson High School Class of 1969 will celebrate their 50-year reunion at the St Hugh’s Church hall in Newton Park from Friday to Sunday, September 20-22.

Gavin Baartzes, reunion organiser and proud Paterson alumnus, said that he had long sought to have the reunion, but that plans had always managed to fall through on account of ill-timing or financial constraints.

Baartzes who, by chance, obtained a class list of the class of 1969 from an ex-Paterson teacher some years ago, said, “For over 20 years I wanted to hold the reunion. I had always been walking around with the handwritten class list with the 55 learners’ names, which I kept for many years in an old briefcase,” he said.

The hope he and many others had for a reunion with their peers came to fruition in September last year, when plans were eventually put in place to host their reunion.

This included the great feat of contacting all 55 students on the list with whom Baartzes and his organising committee had long lost contact, with 12 found to have sadly passed on.

Baartzes and his colleagues, Jenny Borman and John Camphor, recalled fondly the deep sense of community that characterised a now largely drug and gang ravaged Schauderville in the heart of the Apartheid regime and the Group Areas Act.

The group reminisced on socialising at the Toynbee Club of yesteryear, which proved the recreational hub of the time; a place where learners would often do ballet, boxing and weightlifting after school.

Another fond recollection of their glory days is that of congregating at the loved Schauderville community pool after school was dismissed – a facility which now stands derelict and vandalised, due to lack of municipal funding.

They understand the reunion to be a profound opportunity to revisit old times and old friends and, with this in mind, will celebrate their 50-year reunion embracing a ’70s theme in line with the dawning of the era in which they matriculated.

“A lot of us have not seen each other for the whole 50 years, and so this will be an exciting time for all of us,” said Borman.

According to Baartzes, Jannie Barends, an Afrikaans teacher who taught the class of ‘69, made a tremendous impact on himself and his classmates alike.

“Mr Barends was one teacher who had a profound influence on my life and those of my peers. He always went the extra mile to develop us in ways our circumstances often prevented. He went so far as taking our classes out on excursions to shadow different jobs; what is today known as career day, but something which was not an institution back then and was absolutely not a requirement in his job description.

“The habits he instilled and encouragement he gave us has stayed with many of us,” he said.

Baartzes said that a lot of the wisdom and encouragement they received from Barends ultimately proved definitive in the adults they would become.

Moreover, Baartzes and his colleagues enthused about a once thriving Chinese shopkeeping community, who served the Korsten and Schauder communities and were well integrated with its people.

Prior to their upcoming reunion, the class of 1969 engaged in a number of fund-raising efforts to make the celebratory weekend possible, having hosted a storytelling evening and sold commemorative calendars brandishing the names of all 55 class members.

The Paterson High class of 1969 hopes to become involved in charity initiatives to aid the school and community morale in years to come, and intends, in whatever small way, to revive a degenerate Schauderville; a community indelibly woven into some of the best memories of their youth.

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