New decade, new start

First time schoolgoers displayed mixed emotions in various schools around Komani as the first term of the new decade began on Wednesday.

This year the school opening was not as busy at Van Coller Primary School as last year, and there seemed to be pupils competing to see who cried the most tears on their first day.

There is still room for latecomers who missed applying to the school.

Teacher Lindiwe Tatiya said the school had 42 grade Rs in two classes on Wednesday. “We still can accept more pupils. The maximum we can take is 35 per class.”

She said most pupils were expected to return to school by the end of the week.

School principal Eddie Valashiya said: “There are also foreign nationals who are bringing their children to our school and grade R is a perfect starting point for them to learn the Xhosa language.”

Pupil Lukholo Mjongile knew who the South African president was and referred to him as “grandfather Ramaphosa.” He said he wanted to be a teacher. His mother, Xoliswa, said she was amazed by the level of enthusiasm her son had shown to start school.

He made me buy his school uniform before I had planned to. He then spent the rest of his days prior to school opening sleeping with his school shoes on,” she said.

His classmate, Sheldin Webber, had plans to venture into a career as a prince, when he is much older.

Meanwhile in Nonesi Public Primary School there were three grade R pupils in tears and not thrilled at all about school being an exciting place for fun learning and making friends.

Nonawe Madikana said she was angry with her mother for leaving her behind and that she had no interest in making friends.

Learner support agent, Thembakazi Malotana said: “This year is more hectic than last year, where we only had 32 late admissions on the first day. Today the school has had 40 late admissions in grades R to 7 so far. There is still room for 45 more pupils from grade R to grade 7, but, because we are a full service school, late admissions last from January till October.”

Existing Southbourne Primary pupils were very excited on their first day, running to greet their old friends. Even the newcomers looked happy and relaxed while getting used to the environment.

Zizipho Nqolo, one of the parents, said her six-year-old daughter, Oyintando, woke up at 5am to prepare for school as she was so excited about her first day and had asked for her uniform to be ironed the previous night.

Grade Rs were already tuned to the learning mode. “When I grow up I want to be a doctor, I want to help other people,” said Usiphe-Sange Mazangwa, a grade R pupil.

Grade R teacher Vanessa Sass had a hectic morning with crying pupils. She even had to call back the mother of one who would not stop crying, demanding that her mother come to fetch her.

At Playzone Preschool an assistant teacher, Lulama Hokolo, was having a hectic morning too, but said she was used to it on the first day. She advised parents to drop their children and leave as eventually they would stop crying.

A new preschool that opened in August, Uncle Sam, had a greater number of children than they had expected, but still had space for more.

The children where excited and ready to play, but a few demanded that their parents should also stay.

The Get Ahead Project School grade 0 and R class was calm while teacher Olivia Horn was handing out books to the pupils, and they tried to familiarise themselves with their new school.

They all listened attentively, waiting for their names to be called to get their new books. Horn said there were 25 pupils in her class so far, but she was expecting more.

The first day is all about them getting used to the surroundings, familiarising themselves with the toys, ensuring they know where the toilets are, getting their books and starting their daily routine.

One of the challenges we face is the language barrier but they quickly learn and understand English in just a few weeks.”

Horn said there was only one pupil who cried, but they were happy as soon as the parents disappeared.

Balmoral Girls’ Primary was full to the brim in all grades on the first day and had a long waiting list. There were no problems, other than hordes of people looking for places for their children at the last minute.

A secretary at Hangklip Primary, Anel Corbett, said the power outage which lasted all day had been their only problem.

Their English grade 1 class was full and there was a long waiting list, but there were still some vacancies in the Afrikaans classes.

At Queen’s Junior the lack of electricity on such a hot day also caused discomfort. All grades in the school are full and there are long waiting lists.

Parent Evadney Isaacs said she felt her child, in grade 1 at Louis Rex Primary, was in good hands. “Since December he has been asking when schools will open. I am also excited because I used to go to the same school so it is pleasing to see my child grow and knowing that he is in the same school I attended.”

Another parent, Siphelo Ndarala, said his two-year-old daughter was excited and looked forward to her first day at Tomorrow Land Preparatory in New Rest. “The mood changed slightly this morning. I feel better because she is not crying. I know she will adapt easily to the environment because she is not a difficult child.”

Principal Catherine Morrings said they currently had 70 registered children, stating that the numbers had grown compared with last year.

Proud mother Nandi Mzimkhulu added that her child, Avela, who was now doing grade 1 at Louis Rex Primary, was familiar with the environment and had no problems being at school. “He could not wait to return. We look forward to this new year.”

Principal Bevin Christoffels said the school registered 104 grade R pupils and 120 in grade 1. “We welcome all the pupils this year. We trust they will enjoy themselves and will participate in all school activities,” he said.

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