Pinelands High School celebrated its 70th birthday last week with an outdoor ceremony honouring past and present pupils and teachers who played a role in shaping the school.
Opening the ceremony, on Friday March 11, principal Dave Campbell said students, staff, alumni, parents and friends of Pinelands High School could look back with pride on the school’s 70-year history.
“A school founded during nationalist rule which, despite the privileges of the times for some, remained a progressive institution and produced many enlightened young people who went on to help to change society for the better. A school which voted in the early 1990s to open its doors to all, and which has been on a remarkable journey of transformation over the past 30 years – a journey which is never over – because transformation is a journey, not a destination.”
Mr Campbell said respect, integrity, truth and acceptance were core values for a school that continued to produce confident, self-disciplined, compassionate young people.
The school was started in 1952 with four staff and 50 pupils.The school voted in the early 1990s to open its doors to all. Today it has 60 teachers and 1020 pupils.
Mr Campbell also honoured Jim Slater, who is stepping down from his role as alumni coordinator. Mr Slater’s involvement in the school dates back to 1957, when he was pupil. He returned to the school as a physical science teacher in 1973 and worked in the school as head of physical science, grade head, sports coach and senior deputy until he left 21 years later. He had six years as principal of Norman Henshilwood High School, and then he spent a number of years as a teacher at that same school from where he retired in 2012.
“Mr Slater began the role of alumni coordinator in 2001 – a role which he has fulfilled for 21 years – a demonstration of his dedication to the school. He has been so instrumental in keeping the past students’ association strong, and therefore by extension, keeping the school strong,” Mr Campbell said.
“As a school and as a past-pupils association, we are immensely grateful for all that he has done for our school over the years, and so it is fitting on this occasion that we can honour him.”
Kfm’s Carl Wastie said the school had played a big role in shaping his future, and he had felt a sense of belonging there.
Mr Wastie matriculated in 2003 but took a gap year to financially support his family. During this time, he worked many jobs including being the school’s football and water-polo coach.
“Today I just want to say thank you to the school. That stipend I received back then for coaching the football and water-polo team put food on my family’s table. Through my struggles, I grew emotional intelligence, which I was able to impart on the pupils who came through my programmes,” he said.
Mr Wastie said that during his gap year he had received a bursary to study at UCT as well as various gigs as an MC, which had helped his career.
“The school was a place that truly saw potential and made me feel like I could do better. I want to encourage the students here today to make the most of your time here,” he said.
Mr Campbell said it was a privilege to be part of the school and a privilege to be entrusted with the leadership of the schooI at a time when society was in such transition.