Hall for Hillwood

2016-06-14 06:00
The Hillwood Primary choir rendered song items to inspire all who witnessed the unveiling of their new school hall on Saturday 11 June.

The Hillwood Primary choir rendered song items to inspire all who witnessed the unveiling of their new school hall on Saturday 11 June.

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After 40 years with no school hall, Hillwood Primary School in Lavender Hill finally unveiled their new hall on Saturday.

Celebrated in a ceremony with parents, teachers, former teachers and principals, pupils entertained the crowd in the inaugural ceremony.

Keynote speaker, Dr Andrew Barendse, managing executive regulatory affairs at Vodacom SA, inspired guests with his speech saying that teachers who invested special care to their pupils left a lasting impression in their lives.

“I lacked self-esteem while growing up and I attended seven schools when I was in primary school. I was always the new kid at the school or the outsider. But one thing that was constant was that there was always one teacher at the school who showed special care, interest and displayed kind gestures at whichever school I was. They never knew they would enable me to become a leader one day,” the Hillwood alumni shared.

Barendse wished the best to pupils and teachers at the school.

“May this hall be a place where confidence is inspired, kindness shown and community established,” he said.

Thousands of teachers in the Western Cape spend their entire careers at schools that are under-resourced to the extent that many find the challenge to provide pupils with the holistic education they deserve, quite overwhelming.

For the past 11 years a foundation funded by Cape Town’s oldest and largest residential development company has done its best to alleviate the enormous shortfall of one of the most essential resources teachers believe are pivotal to a good education – a school hall.

Now nearly 100 years old, the not-for-profit company Garden Cities has built a total of 67 school halls and, in the past year, has spent over R30m on providing halls for eight more of the province’s disadvantaged schools, through its Archway Foundation.

More recently, a closer collaboration with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has accelerated the delivery.

The collaboration between the WCED and Garden Cities pays for the halls, with an added contribution from the school.

Group CEO of Garden Cities, John Matthews, says school halls are as pivotal to education as much as classrooms are.

“Notwithstanding the obviously enormous need for adequate classrooms, laboratories and sports facilities, our research has supported the conviction that school halls share the top level of the hierarchy of needs when it comes to education,” Matthews says.

Matthews led the drive, on his appointment as CEO, to establish the Archway, and immediately received the support of the Garden Cities Board.

The no-fees Hillwood Primary is now 40 years old and for the last three years, up to the start of 2016 had not had an appointed principal.

Now its staff is led by Gavin Alkana whose history both as a pupil and educator is strongly tied to the Lavender Hill community. He started school at Levana Primary in and finished his school career at Lavender Hill High.

Having started in teaching at Levana Primary, he came as principal to Hillwood at the start of this year from Athwood Primary in Hanover Park, where he was principal for three years.

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