Fuad Viljoen officially took up his post as principal of Lavender Hill High School at the beginning of this year and is the successor to Faseeg Manie who retired last year.Manie spent 38 years at the school and was its principal for 17 years.Viljoen, the former deputy principal at Sibelius High School, says it was the right time in his teaching career to take up this new role. He acknowledges the important role played by Manie during his time as the school’s principal. “It was a bit sad for me; I had been at Sibelius High School for 25 years. But I had to move on and embrace new challenges. I have a lot on my mind but I have a great team here, so we’ll be going for it this year. “All the teachers at this school are passionate about the learners and taking the school forward.”Despite the jarring effect change can have, teachers, learners and the Lavender Hill community are running high on the school’s 89.9% matric pass rate for 2019. And Viljoen wants to use that momentum to further improve the school.“I challenged our learners, as the top academic township and public school, to become the top sports school as well,” he says.“The last time Lavender Hill High had athletics was about four or five years ago and I have reintroduced it. I’m pleasantly surprised that the learners and the teachers are excited about inter-house athletics.”Training kicked off yesterday, Monday 20 January, with the first inter-house athletics competition set for Thursday 30 January. Next term, the school will kick off baseball, softball, hockey, soccer, cricket, rugby, chess and volleyball practices after school. Viljoen adds: “In the next three years, I want us to be the top sports school. The school is on an upward trajectory.”He says the importance of providing a top-quality school is to show learners they can achieve anything, regardless of their circumstances.“Education is the way for learners to break the cycle of poverty, so the least we can do is to get everyone to pass matric and to give the children in the community a fighting chance. But we can’t do it without the parents and their support.”The school is currently at full capacity with 1100 learners and 60 on the waiting list. To enrol these learners, Viljoen will be applying to the Western Cape Education Department for more teachers.By growing the school, he hopes learners from Lavender Hill will stop making the long journey to other schools.“We can’t control what’s happening out in the community but we can create a safe space here on the premises,” he says.