School celebrates principal’s birthday in style

Zandile Mbabela

LORRAINE Primary School principal Rudi van Schalkwyk arrived at school in a horse-drawn carriage yesterday in celebration of his 60th birthday – much like he did more than 50 years ago as a pupil at a Hogsback primary school, except that back then it was more of a cart.

Van Schalkwyk’s “pleasant surprise” was organised by teachers and pupils. He was accompanied by his wife, Gerda, waving to hundreds of smiling pupils.

He and his deputy, Leon Goosen, will be hanging up their gowns at the end of the year.

“I wasn’t expecting all this, but it was a really great surprise,” Van Schalkwyk said. “This is what I will miss most when I’ve left – the kids and the camaraderie. It will be tough leaving all that behind.”

Van Schalkwyk and Goosen have bittersweet feelings about their retirement – while they are looking forward to it, saying goodbye to the school they have dedicated themselves to for 17 and 24 years respectively will be difficult.

The highlight of Van Schalkwyk’s career is the high academic performance of his pupils at Lorraine Primary, who have achieved no less than a 98% pass rate over the years.

Goosen, who said he would spend the first year of his retirement “doing absolutely nothing”, said he would miss the school and working with Van Schalkwyk.

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