Pupils march to victory

2015-08-18 06:00
The staff, committee and drilling squad members with their trophies. The team made up of Grade 6 and 7 pupils impressed so much that it has been invited by the national defence force to be certificated later this year.

Samantha Lee

The staff, committee and drilling squad members with their trophies. The team made up of Grade 6 and 7 pupils impressed so much that it has been invited by the national defence force to be certificated later this year. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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And the junior drilling champion of the Nelson Mandela Bay Schools Marching Competition is Harvester Primary School.

The team of 43 pupils made a clean sweep of the competition in Port Elizabeth on Monday last week, winning first overall in all five of its categories.

Their cadette caps and blazers won best dressed, their salute won best grand march pass, their leader led them to best drum major and their exhibition was voted the best overall, resulting in the highest points of the day.

With the support of a passionate coach, Dawood Davids, parents and staff, the pupils are determined to leave a lasting legacy. Principal Thabiet Gasant says the younger children look up to them.

“We find that the younger grades want to be part of the team as well,” he says.

He adds that having the project at the school has improved discipline and academic results. The initiative has become so big at the school that a full committee – made up of teachers – had to be appointed.

Deputy principal Franklin Jacobs agrees that the team has the full support of parents and staff. “We find that the teachers are giving up their own time to ensure the children are ready for competition. They will iron the uniforms and polish their shoes.”

The team was invited to perform at the competition, but then participated in it.

Gasant says he approached Davids to help in starting the project and coaching in 2012. The team won its first competition and came second in its second try. Last year it took home all the trophies again.

“These children have the dedication and their coach really has the passion and motivation and he sacrifices a lot of his own time,” Jacobs says.

The team practises every day during both intervals, after school and on Saturdays.

Davids says the team also has the support of the the community. “Residents living near the school often come and watch the children practise and they are always amazed,” he says.

The project has helped in keeping children out of the grip of social ills, says Davids. “Drugs and gangsterism have a big influence in this area. At the moment we have 180 children interested, starting from Grade R,” he says.

Davids is also the sports facilitator at the school. “Drilling is a sport. It is a sport that does not exclude anyone. It does not specify age, weight, height, gender or skin colour,” Davids says.

“The military was also so impressed that they were called back to be certificated with the national crest later this year,” says Gasant.

All three agree that the drilling squad will continue to grow and has become a beacon of hope through the participants’ inspirational dedication.


Contact the school at 021 371 9402 or harvesterprimary@gmail.com

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