Spring festival unites Woodstock schools

Walmer Primary School pupils wowed the audience with their dance routine.

An initiative to bring schools in Woodstock closer together proved an overwhelming success at the Woodstock Town Hall last weekend.

The first annual Woodstock Schools’ Spring Festival on Saturday October 15, organised by the Broader Woodstock SGB-Member Forum, drew pupils and representatives from Zonnebloem Boys’ Primary, Zonnebloem Girls’ School, Zonnebloem NEST Senior Secondary, the Children’s Art Centre, Walmer Primary School and Walmer Secondary School, as well as Chapel Street Primary.

The Broader Woodstock SGB-
Member Forum creates a valuable network for SGB-members in the area to share lessons and challenges, as well as leverage resources, for improved school support.

The Spring Festival saw hundreds of children and parents being afforded the opportunity to get to know one another, learn about what the different schools have to offer, and generally enjoy the day, which included performances from school dance groups and lunch packs being handed out the pupils.

Since its establishment a year ago, the Broader Woodstock SGB-Member Forum has been championed by the Norkitt Education Leadership Initiative (NELI), which has taken tremendous strides in terms of bringing cohesion among Woodstock school governing bodies.

“The basic idea of the Spring Festival is a way for parents to connect with parents,” said NELI project manager, Frances Eberhard.

“Usually the only interaction the parents have with the school are over matters of fees or discipline. This is something completely different which gives the chance for the parents to get to know the teachers and see exactly what goes on at the school.”

She said one of the great challenges for Woodstock schools is that they generally worked in isolation.“All these schools are in the same boat , and events such as these are also a way for them to leverage their resources. Each school has a stand, and they can show parents what they are all about,” Ms Eberhard said.

“Traditionally in Woodstock you haven’t found the kind of pride in a school’s activities as you might find in an area like Rondebosch. The spring festival aims to change that by also getting the Woodstock community involved. We want to show that Woodstock welcomes you, and is proud of its schools.”

Teacher Carmen Hector, of Zonnebloem NEST, was thrilled with the turnout at Saturday’s event.

“This is a great initiative in Woodstock, and it is nice to see so many families attending,” she said.

“The support the event has received from the community has been fantastic. It is also nice that the schools have been given a chance to showcase what they are doing. This is a very positive move.”

Ms Hector added a lot of families lived in the townships, and seldom had the opportunity to interact with the school. This event allowed them to do so, she said.

Zonnebloem Girls Grade 7 teacher Joanne van Eeden agreed that it was an “awesome” way for the schools to interact with one another and their respective parent bodies.

“I think it’s wonderful that there is also a mix of primary and secondary schools, so that the parents can get an idea of what high school they would like to send their children to. It is also a way for parents to get to see their kids interacting with other children outside of school,” she said.

“Hopefully this will be the first of many (spring festivals). There are a lot of schools in the area who are not here, and I think it is only going to get bigger next year. NELI has been doing a great job in terms of their support for the schools and initiatives such as these.”