The year 2010 promised to be an exciting watershed year for South Africa. Had the country bitten off more than it could chew with the FIFA world cup, or would its people rally and meet this challenge? Would the building projects be finished on time and would we be able to cope with the extra financial pressures? By now we know that South Africa met these challenges head-on and showed the rest of the world what amazing people can achieve when united behind a common goal.
In many ways Victoria Park’s year has gone the same way. We successfully completed the building of eight new classrooms, furnished them and teachers moved in with their new smaller classes when school resumed early in January. This project has allowed VP the luxury of having class sizes of 29, or fewer, in our GET grades. The direct benefits of more personal attention, fewer discipline problems, easily controlled group work and a more relaxed atmosphere became evident immediately. Thanks to the hard work, superb planning and vision of the school executive and the Governing Body, VP now offers private school class sizes at public school prices. My sincere thanks go to everyone involved in this project. The new Drama building has helped make the introduction of Drama as a subject a resounding success. Learners have been very complimentary about the initiative and have loved the work they are doing.
Our next major project is the start of a gymnasium that will add value to our sporting teams that need high levels of physical development to remain competitive. It will also complement the physical education component of Life Orientation and provide our parents with a facility where they can pursue a fitter, healthier lifestyle. It is an exciting project and I wish the committee well with the hard work that lies ahead. The recently formed VP Legends, a group of ex-Victorians, has come on board and pledged their financial and moral support.
The Victorian, our superb clubhouse, has continued to grow in popularity and is now well-utilised by the school, old scholars, the community and some companies. The Victorian has become a good source of additional income and more importantly, a good PR tool.
While the country was paralyzed by the national Public Servants’ strike, VP continued to offer uninterrupted, excellent education. In conjunction with ten other like-minded high schools, we pooled our resources and completed successful trial examinations for our Matriculants. I would like to commend all role players who have helped give our Grade 12’s the best possible chance of success this year. I would also like to thank my teachers for giving their support, despite many differing opinions and viewpoints.
The Valedictory service in honour of our 2010 Grade 12 graduates confirmed, once again, the very real relationships forged between learners and educators. The genuine emotions, gratitude and warmth evident in the hall should serve as an energizer to people who make VP their life, going well past the call of duty. The pupils who make use of the many opportunities on offer, leave school as well-rounded young adults ready to face the challenges of tertiary education and the working world.
The Eastern Cape Education Department has reported that it is in serious financial trouble, announcing a R1,8 billion overspending of its budget. This fact makes planning at VP very difficult. There is no certainty that the department will be able to honour the post provisioning for our school. The eight teachers we are entitled to, as a government school of our size, and who are currently temporarily employed in substantial full time posts make a huge difference to the quality of education, subject choices and the extramural programme. They also obviously affect our budget. With no clarity from Department, do we plan optimistically for a best case scenario or do we plan conservatively? I feel really sorry for schools that are not financially stable. Pupils in these schools are the ones who suffer and form part of the frightening statistics of a failing education system. The previously Model C schools remain a beacon of hope for the future of this country.
Victoria Park enjoyed an exciting sporting season with good results, many successful tours, players in national teams and the hosting of overseas visitors. The boys’ soccer, hockey and cricket teams have been particularly good, losing fewer than 20% of their fixtures. Please refer to the magazine for details of these sports.
Academically the Grade 12 class of 2009 had a 99% pass rate. While this is praiseworthy, our ultimate goal is 100% and this is what we will be pursuing this year. One of our 2009 Matriculants, I am proud to say, was awarded the NMMU Vice Chancellor’s prestige bursary worth R240 000 over four years. This is the biggest bursary available for undergraduate study in the country. It is heartening to know that VP is giving pupils the necessary teaching and opportunities to make them competitive for top bursaries. This year we also had a learner as one of the finalists for the Weekend Post “Matric of the Year” competition. All the effort put into keeping Victoria Park a trusted and respected brand is rewarded when outside institutions honour our learners.
I would like to thank my superb staff for what they have done for Victoria Park this year. I am a very fortunate man to lead such a fine group of caring educators. Thanks also, to Mr Andre Strydom and his Governing Body for their support, guidance and love during the year. With their continuing involvement and vision, the support of our parents and community and the pursuing of common goals, VP will continue to supply quality education in a country that sorely needs it.