Goodwood Park Primary celebrates 50th

Goodwood Park Primary School has made major strides since it opened on January 23 1968, and this year marks its 50th anniversary.

The suburb of Goodwood sprang up in 1905 and the school was built later on Townsend Estate, an extension of Goodwood developed around 1960.

The school started with 275 pupils and 11 staff. It was opened officially only on November 1 1974, following ongoing construction.

Juan Rossouw, Goodwood Park Primary’s current principal, said it had been “no easy feat” naming the school, which took its name from a horse-racing club that had only been active in the area for a couple of months during 1905.

Johann Steyl, the principal from 1994 to December 2015, said the school had excelled exponentially over the past five decades.

“When I first got here, we only had 800 pupils, and when I left, that number increased to 1250. I do believe we were the front-runners in changing the school into a multi-cultural one. Throughout my time at the school, we had very sound parental participation, and that carried the school to greater heights,” he said.

The school had 349 pupils and 13 staff by the end of 1968. By December 1975, it had 823 pupils and 33 staff.

Five classrooms had to be built in 1994 and by the end of June 1998, the school had almost 1 300 pupils.

Mr Steyl said the school concert — held every two years and involving all the pupils — had always been a highlight.

“The school’s legacy will be one of sound academic achievements. You just need to follow the trajectory of the pupils who go on to high school to see that,” he said. “The school has also fared very well in their extra-mural and cultural undertakings, such as the eisteddfods and school choir.”

School photographer Colin Sunkel has taken many pictures at the school over the years, including those for its 25th anniversary.

“I think this school has a very good image in the community because of the dedication and devotion to education shown by the teachers, parents and pupils,” he said.

Mr Rossouw, the school’s fourth principal, said its 1 242 pupils now formed part of a “very tight community”.

He is particularly proud of the drum majorettes, who were ranked number one provincially in previous years? “We have also had many of our pupils go on to become doctors and lawyers, and we have moulded many professionals. Even Springbok Eben Etzebeth attended this school,” he said.

The school choir won the provincial leg of the Singing in Harmony title on kykNET last year. “They launched a DVD and people can go and view it on YouTube,” he said.

Mr Rossouw said his pupils continued to shine academically. “Our recent systemic tests, which is done with the Grade 3s and Grade 6s saw us score 81.9% for languages compared to the provincial average of 38.7%. In mathematics, we scored 82.4% and the provincial average was 38.6%.”

Estelle Launders, who has taught at the school for eight years, said its strong academic performance was why it had a long waiting list. “We believe in a balanced academic and extra-mural life for our pupils,” she said.

The school plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a fun walk in May, a fiesta-themed school concert in August and a carnival in December.