A beacon of hope

2018-10-30 06:01
PHOTO: Samantha Lee

PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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With views of Table Mountain, the national flag flying at full mast and a constant reminder of eight key values, a school hall takes pride of place at West End Primary school.

The hall is the realisation of a collective 30-year dream of past and present learners, parents, principals and stakeholders.

“The school has been around for the past 37 years and currently serves 1578 learners. All schools need a school hall and the hall has been officially on the cards for the more than 30 years,” says Clive Arries, school principal for the past eight years.

The hall was officially handed over to the school on Thursday 18 October.

The event was a black tie affair followed by a week-long celebration focussing on the learners, staff, parents, grandparents and past learners of the school. This was followed by cultural and art displays through school concerts that drew hundreds to the hall.

“The hall has been in operation since the last week of the last term. For the majority of time we needed to make use of the quad for assemblies and get togethers. Because renting the civic centres and other halls was not a feasible solution, we decided to construct a minor hall on the property with our own funds. Here we could at least meet with 200 to 300 parents,” says Arries.

“We used the minor hall for three years and now it serves a new purpose. We have a feeding scheme that feeds 700 children per day and we feed them from there where they have a proper table and chair to sit and eat in the morning. After it becomes a meeting place or assessment venue and at night it becomes a karate [dojo] venue. We have already produced two SA colours in karate from the classes.”

The school is a no-fee school and relies on the assistance of funders and fundraising events. The hall was built by the Archway Foundation in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department and the school needed to raise R250 000 to secure the investment. The school, however, managed to raise R2m which went into upgrading the hall with branding, a separate road leading to the hall, security features and a state-of-the-art kitchen.

This brings the total investment to R9m.

“We went all out to ensure we celebrated the school hall in a dignified manner where all those invested who supported the school could celebrate,” says Arries.

The hall also features key values, on boards, the school believes must be instilled in their learners. These are kindness, courage, helpfulness, fairness, accountability, perseverance, tolerance, honesty and respect. “In a meeting with the school governing body and teachers, we identified 30 relevant focus values but decided on these because we believe they build on one another. These are the values we want to see the children have when they leave the school and go into the real world,” says Arries.

“We see the hall as a light house and when the children look at it, they must be reminded of the values.”

Arries says they do not want the facility to become a white elephant and encourages residents to make use of the facility.

Arries says the renting of the venue will also generate funds for the school.

“The more people use the venue, the more jobs we can create,” he says.

Currently, the hall has created two general assistant jobs, above what they had already had.

“This must be a community facility and we already have bookings for 80% of the weekends left in the year. The facilities come with the hiring fee and it is the cheapest rate you will find,” says Arries.

The rest of the school facilities are constantly upgraded to improve the look of the school, inspiring the children to think beyond their circumstances. These include removing all the sand from the school, making full use of the open spaces and creating shade for the learners. The school also has a pen with chickens, doves and rabbits and a blue flag garden.

The school hall is also equipped with stone tables and benches in the front and park benches on the balcony. Inside the hall, the values are replicated on the walls and also features CCTV drone technology with projectors. The hall can seat around 800 people, conference style.

V To hire the hall, call the school on 021 371 2400.

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