School holds 80th birthday celebration

Activity winners with their prizes.

One of the oldest schools in Salt River, Cecil Road Primary School, has a held a week-long 80th birthday celebration.

About 300 children were enrolled at the school when it opened in April 1937. The staff consisted of a principal and two assistants, working in classrooms without chairs, desks or stationery.

Today the school has 16 classes, about 560 pupils, 16 teachers, two secretaries and three support staff.

The current principal, Shahid Mathews, said most of the pupils were from “ traditional Cecil Road Primary families” and that despite many challenges and changes over the years the school had “remained stable and blessed with long-serving personnel and a strong learner complement,” Mr Mathews said.

The school held a “Birthday Week” to celebrate the important milestone in its long history, and Mr Mathews thanked parents and governing members for their support over the years.

“The school continues to go from strength to strength and we go into the future with great excitement and hopes for the future,” he said.

The Birthday Week started on Tuesday July 25. There have been colouring-in and sketching activities, word searches, games, cupcake decorating and certificate presentations.

Earlier this year, there was a gala anniversary dinner at Barron’s Estate, in Philippi.

“A special thanks and appreciation must also be extended to our many ex-teachers and ex-students for their loyal service and contributions to the school,” Mr Mathews said.

Former pupils – many of them parents and grandparents of current pupils- have also wished the school well.

Rushana Wyngaard, from Woodstock, is one of those ex-pupils who now returns to the school daily, only this time to collect her two children.

“It’s weird to think that nearly 30 years ago, I was the one being collected. There was already so much history behind this school. It’s 80 years now and my children are in the very place I was educated,” she said.

She has fond memories of her teachers as well as the many friends she made.

“I still speak to many of them today and when we speak about our school days, we always speak about the lovely teachers we had. Even today, the school is lucky to have some very caring teachers who enjoy educating these children.”

Shafiek Dysal, 52, now lives in Rondebosch East, but also collects his grandson at the school every afternoon. “It was a pleasure to be at this school when I was young. Even though the memory is fading, I remember always enjoying my time at Cecil Road Primary School. When my children, who live in Salt River, came and spoke of a school for their kids, I was the one who said Cecil Road is their best choice, simply because of the history attached to the school.”

The school has maintained a 90% pass rate over the years despite many challenges.

“The school is concerned about the education and personal development of the child as a whole. This includes the acquisition of knowledge, the development skills, independence of thought and the formation of the sound moral character of each child,” Mr Mathews said.

The school has plans to build two new Grade R classrooms to admit a further 60 pupils; a new school hall; and, much further down the line, a library.

The school will honour its grandparents during a special event in the Nico Malan Recreation Hall on Saturday September 9. Call 021 448 1574 or email cecilroadschool@gmail.com for details.