Sunday, January 31, 2010

Briewe / Letters

Our Snake Charmer

Early in January I came across a beautiful Cape Cobra that had already found the stoep too hot and had come into the house in hope of finding it cooler inside. I shouted and jumped up and down with no real direction to my fright which is exactly the wrong thing to do. Anton kept his head, followed the shocked snake outside and called out that I should phone Athol. He answered on the second ring and took less than 30 seconds to get to our house. the meantime, the cobra was nowhere to be seen.

We felt a little uncomfortable in our house after this encounter and Athol seemed to think that the cobra may have been in the area for some time. a result of this heightened awareness of all creatures moving at low level, we saw the same snake the very next morning on the stoep in a spot where we might not have seen it had we not been so alert. time I stayed calm and phoned Athol, who went about his business and in less than five minutes he had extracted a beautiful young adult cobra from its hiding place. Were we relieved!

Many things impressed me. respect and gentleness with which Athol handled our visitor was wonderful to see. He answered all our questions and did his best to make us feel less apprehensive. also give Athol full marks for reaction time – I have no idea how he got to us so quickly!

If I could write in verse, I would write an Ode to Athol to thank him for the amazing service he does the snakes and people of our town. He accepts no payment and there is every reason to phone him when a troublesome snake is around. have now memorised Athol’s number and it is also written in large print on the fridge. urge everyone to put his number where it is easy to find and to make use of it.

Ellen Joubert

Thank You

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each one who came alongside and supported me when Mike so unexpectedly collapsed on his way back from a favourite run into the Karoo veld on Waterkop on 1 for waiting with me and so tenderly helping me step by step into my first night without my husband of almost 35 years.I imagined we had many more years together.

Your support, love and care did not end there.Our sons have been blown away by what we have all experienced in this town.

Thank you one and all from Mavis, David and Sarah, Stephen, Jonathan and Rebecca, Simon and Timothy.

Do Local Children Pester Tourists?

Along with friends, my husband and I made one of our frequent visits to Prince Albert in December. We had a wonderful time, staying at the Saxe-Coburg Lodge with Regina and Dick Billiet.

Being creatures of habit, as usualwandered around the village, stopping for lunch at the Lazy Lizard, returning mid afternoon to Saxe-Coburg for a dip in the pool and a relax, beforedinner at the Gallery Café with Brent.

However, we were very dismayed to be pestered on a number of occasions by children begging in the street, something we have not encountered before in Prince Albert.the main, the children asked once or twice for money, after firmly but politely being told “no”then walked away. On one occasion, an older boy around 14 years of age became very persistent, following us for some distance asking for money and making a nuisance of himself. Although we didn't feel threatened by the boy, it certainly left us feeling uncomfortable.

I spoke to a number of local residents, who assured me there are no “street children” in Prince Albert. Perhaps just a few local youths preying on unsuspecting visitors? What ever the reason for this recent activity, it does not fit well with the Prince Albert image and needs urgent attention.

Prince Albert is a glorious, friendly little Karoo town, where we love to relax and re-charge our batteries, certainly not a place where we expect to be pestered by children begging in the streets.

Mary Page

Give Tortoises a Chance

The journey into Prince Albert is a constant joy to me. It is a gift I have been given - I have the wonderful opportunity of seeing the beauty around me, the changing colours of the veld, the variety of bird life, and the occasional kudu; where else in South Africa do you get this opportunity on the way to work?

Alas, this season (November through January) has been the most harrowing experience for me. I have had the misfortune of having to stop and remove 10 tortoises ranging from hatchlings to old madalas that had been badly damaged by vehicles. How I wished I could just close my eyes, look the other way and travel past them, but I could not leave them on the tar in the baking sun with the crows waiting to feed off them. I took them broken and bleeding with their shells crushed and backs exposed to Vrisch Gewaagt placing them in the shade of the willow tree with the sound of water hoping that this might bring some comfort to them as I feel sure their death is slow and excruciatingly painful.

If you see a large rock in the road do you ride over it - NO you avoid it;
If you see a dog lying in the road do you ride over it - NO you avoid it;
If you see a vehicle stopped in the road do you plough into it - NO you avoid it;
If you see a stray sheep in the road do you hit it - NO you avoid it.

Why is it when you see a tortoise in the road do you RIDE over it and not avoid it? What is an extra 10 minutes in your life; you might just get a kick out of looking around you and seeing the Great Karoo.

Please add to your list of New Year’s resolutions - Give tortoises the right of way!

Lisa Smith

Unhappy Advertiser

I have to admit to some amusement over what in the big wide world, would be termed a hostile takeover of Pam Golding Properties’ long-held position on Page 3 of the Prince Albert Friend.
If I’d been told at any time that Page 3 was so coveted by others, I would immediately have offered to share and rotate it – a suggestion which, although later rejected by the “editorial committee”, I considered wholly appropriate.

However, due to others’ malfunctioning emails and a rather regrettable lack of consultation and transparency, the decision to put Page 3 out to tender was, with somewhat unseemly haste (or so it appeared to me), already a fait accompli.

I would like to put it on record that Pam Golding Properties did not participate in the tender. We feel that once a newspaper (even a tiny country publication such as the PA Friend which does not seem to consider itself part of prevailing professional newspaper advertising practices) has established and published its rates, it does not put them up for auction.

Nevertheless, we wish the new occupier of Page 3, whoever it may be, a large dose of whatever magic Page 3 is deemed to hold, and trust that they have made a suitably generous contribution to the coffers of the PA Friend.

I will continue with good grace to support the PA Friend and will occupy whatever page they think I deserve after my loyal support since 1994.

Elaine Hurford
Pam Golding Properties

(When other advertisers expressed an interest in advertising on page 3, the editorial committee decided, based on sound business principles and to be fair to everyone, to put the page out to tender. The newspaper depends on sufficient revenue to bring out an edition every month and is entitled to determine the cost of advertising on its pages. We appreciate the long-standing support of Pam Golding Properties and are delighted that it will continue. Ed.)

Skoolgemeenskap moet ons hoërskool ondersteun

Die redaksionele kommentaar in die Vriend van Nov/Des 2009, waarin gesê word dat ons eerlik moet begin praat oor die omstandighede by Hoërskool Zwartberg, verdien lof.

My mening is ook dat dit tyd is dat die gemeenskap weet dat die skoolhoof van Hoërskool Zwartberg net minagting en disrespek vir kinders, ouers en personeel se opinies openbaar. Hy toon steeds nie dat hy enigsins akkomoderend of deur-sigtig wil wees nie en behandel die personeel regtig soos minderjariges. Hy laat nie toe dat iemand ‘n inset lewer waarop hy nie krities reageer nie. Hy beskou die skool as sy eiendom, maar die skool is in werklikheid die gemeenskap se eiendom - hy moet dit net bestuur. By verskeie geleenthede het hy gesê dat Zwartberg “sy” skool is en dat dinge nie by sý skool “só” sal gebeur nie. Tot dusver het hy nog net getoon dat hy heeltemal onbekwaam is om dié bestuurspos te vul.

Betalende ouers neem hul kinders weg uit die skool, wat dit op die ou end onmoontlik gaan maak vir die skool om te funksioneer met onvoldoende fondse. Gehalte-onderrig, soos wat tans nog plaasvind, gaan onmoontlik raak met kombinasieklasse wat gevorm moet word omdat daar nie genoeg personeellede is nie. Die skool het reeds een beheer-liggaampos verloor, wat gekompliseerde onderrig in gekombineerde klasse in 2010 noodsaak.

Van ‘n skoolhoof word verwag om die “gom” te wees wat personeel, ouers, kinders en die skoolgemeenskap aan-mekaar hou, maar Zwartberg se hoof oefen slegs ‘verdelende aksies’ uit - soseer dat van die ouers en van die personeel nie eens in sy teenwoordigheid wil wees nie.

Ek glo die vertrouensverhouding tussen skoolhoof en skoolgemeenskap is onher-stelbaar beskadig en indien die gemeenskap nie drasties planne gaan maak nie, gaan die skool ten gronde gaan. Die korrekte forum waardeur gewerk moet word, is die Beheerliggaam en mense uit die skoolgemeenskap sal moet opstaan en hulself beskikbaar stel om standpunt in te neem teen die agteruitgang wat ons nou by HZ beleef. Die skool dien die gemeenskap en dit is hoe ons dit wil behou: Dit is nie die skoolhoof se eiendom om uit mekaar te laat val nie!

Ek bedank die Vriend vir aktuele berig-gewing en vra dat die koerant sal volhou om te berig oor ongerymdhede by die skool, of waar ook al, want dit is belangrik dat belanghebbendes ingelig bly.

(Die skrywer se identiteit en kontakbeson-derhede is aan die Vriend bekend.)

‘n Afskrif van Anoniem se brief is om hoflikheidshalwe aan die skoolhoof, Hoërskool Zwartberg, voorsien. Normaalweg aanvaar Die Vriend briewe wat nie langer is as 350 woorde nie, maar omdat dié aangeleentheid van belang is vir die gemeenskap het ons besluit om ‘n uitsondering te maak en die skoolhoof se antwoord daarop onveranderd en geheel te plaas.

Kyk na die telbord

Hierdie brief dien as repliek op Anoniem se brief soos in u koerant geplaas.

Ek het nog altyd geglo dat briefwisseling, veral in ‘n ope forum soos waar ons onsself tans bevind, positief, opbouend, ontwikkelend en ter verbetering van mens-wees behoort te wees.

Om te kwets, te verneder en bloot kwaadwillig te wees, kan egter ook deel van briefwisseling wees. Ek voel lankal dat die bal nie meer gespeel word nie, maar die man.

Ek het nog nooit op anonimiteit reageer nie, dit maar nog net altyd behandel as van mindere gehalte, benede die moed-van-oortuiging gedagte.

Mens is egter bang dat die algemene leser dalk dié verdigsels wat in Anoniem se brief kwytgeraak word, kan glo, dat ‘n mens verplig voel om daarop te reageer. Uit ‘n persoonlike hoedanigheid en ook omdat ‘n mens bang is dat sulke los praatjies Hoërskool Zwartberg se reputasie sal skade aandoen; ‘n instansie waarvoor ek baie lief geword het en wat ek belang-riker beskou as my eie beskroomdheid.

Dit is werklik jammer dat Anoniem se identiteit nie bekend is nie; ek sou hom/haar graag wou verwys na die talle forums wat by Hoërskool Zwartberg bestaan om op ‘n openlike manier klagtes, uitdagings, probleme en algemene sake te bespreek. Ter inligting: ons personeel en beheerliggaamslede is volledig onderleg in die roetes wat gevolg behoort te word. Sake word openlik bespreek met almal se insae. HSZ het, na ‘n lang personeelsessie, as groep besluite geneem oor die hantering van ons skool in 2010. Daar was geen individu wat daarna sy/haar ontevreden-heid met enige besluit geneem, geopper het nie. Ook ons skool se werksver-deling, rooster, buitemuurse aktiwiteite en alle fasette van skoolwees is bespreek, afgehandel en word geïmplementeer. Die proses was dus akkomoderend, demokraties, elkeen kon sy/haar opinie lug en is as menswaardige gelykes behandel. Anomiem was seker nie op hierdie vergadering nie.

Ja, ek het al per geleentheid gesê HSZ is my skool. Ek is geweldig trots op hierdie skool. Net so behoort hierdie skool aan elke persoon van hierdie gemeenskap wat ‘n positiewe bydrae wil lewer. So is dit elkeen se “my” skool en so is dit óns skool.

Die skoolhoof se sogenaamde onbekwaamheid:

Na slegs een jaar se ondervinding in ‘n baie harde, ongenaakbare en soms onverdraagsame omgewing was dit teen die einde van 2009 reeds baie lekker om alle administrasie, werksverdelings, programme, datumlyste, nuusbriewe en beplanning vir 2010 daar te stel. Einde 2009 het HSZ se leerders se akademiese uitslae óf die vorige jaar s’n gehandhaaf of daar is op verbeter, tot soveel as 15% in ‘n enkele geval. Ons matrieks het ‘n 100% slaagsyfer gehad. Hulle gemiddelde vir die klas was uitstekend. Ons was ook die enigste skool in ons kring wat hierdie welslae behaal het. Gelukwensinge het ingestroom.
Hierdie administratiewe agtergrond en uitslae kon nie tot stand gebring word saam met onbekwame bestuur nie. Die uitvloeisel hiervan was dat HSZ reeds op die eerste dag van skool sy rooster begin loop het en die opvoeders kon begin klasgee. Daar is min skole wat so iets kan regkry. Dit getuig van puik samewerking in ‘n skool, deur elke individu en ook as span.

HSZ, sy personeel en ook die skoolhoof is in 2009 geëvalueer, ook as deel van die standaard skoolverbeteringsplan, soos deur die WKOD bestuur. Hierdie evaluering het aangetoon dat kommentaar wissel van bevredigend tot uitstekend. (Soos o.a. ook deur die personeel geëvalueer).

Tydens ons personeelontwikkeligsessie die begin van die jaar, gegrond op die film “Freedom Writers”, is in die besprekingsessie daarna deur die personeel aangetoon dat hulle reken HSZ ‘n goeie skool is wat geborgenheid aan sy leerders bied en waar ‘n kind steeds mooi hoogtes van menswees kan bereik.

Anoniem wys daarop dat betalende ouers hulle kinders tans uit die skool neem en op die negatiewe gevolge wat daaruit voortvloei. Sy/hy lê dit en die “gom” wat die skoolhoof behoort te wees ook voor sy deur.

HSZ het die eerste keer in 112 jaar die skool se verjaarsdag gevier, op inisiatief van die skoolhoof en met teenkanting. Die idee was om saam met ander aktiwiteite die skooltrots en motivering van alle lede van die skoolgemeenskap aan te blaas. Mnr Chris Gouws het vir hierdie geleentheid navorsing gedoen oor die geskiedenis van ons skool. Een van sy bevindinge was dat HSZ feitlik van sy ontstaan af te doen gehad het met die spook van onvoldoende fondse. Dit was maar altyd ‘n groot faktor. So ook vandag.

Daar is egter vir 2010 twee kontrakposte i.p.v. een soos in die verlede, vir onderwysers aan die skool toegeken, wat geweldige besparings teweeggebring het. Dit kon gedoen word met die handhawing van goeie verhoudings met die WOKD-area kantoor te Beaufort-Wes.

Geld is steeds hierdie faktor, veral as dit by die betaling van beheerliggaamsposte kom. Dit hou egter nouliks verband met die aantal mense wat bereid is om hulle kinders in hierdie skool te hou. Dit is mos elke mens se persoonlike keuse.

Wat Anoniem egter nie noem nie, is dat mense reeds voor my koms hulle kinders in groot getalle na ander skole in die omgewing en op ons eie dorp ge-stuur het. Sommige doen dit na gr 7 ander vroeer of later. Die privaatskole en huisonderrig was iets wat ek hier kom vind het. Ek kan nie vir daardie “gom” pa staan nie. Interessant dat my en my familie se lojaliteit nie hier onder verdenking kan wees nie. My eie twee kinders is immers in hierdie skool, baie van die mense rondom me se kinders nie. Ironies?

Onthou ook asb. dat dat die keuses om beheerliggamposte te behou, aldan nie, ‘n besluit van is wat deur die beheer-liggaam geneem word, dis hulle verantwoordelikheid. So ook die behoud van die skool en die hantering van fondseinsameling en geldsake. Die skoolhoof is NIE hiervoor verantwoordelik nie. Hy hanteer slegs die personeel. Die toekoms van hierdie skool berus dus in ‘n groot mate in sy ouers se hande. Hulle moet ook help planne maak.

Wat egter ook interessant is, is dat na 2009 se goeie uitslae baie van die room van Prince Albert se leerders nou nie meer na ander fokusskole gaan nie, hulle vind hulle weë na HSZ. Ons sien hierdie in die toename in Wiskunde- en Skeinat leerders aan ons skool in 2010....

Ter afsluiting net die volgende: ek dink daar is oorvoldoende bewyse dat HSZ beslis nie besig is om uitmekaar te val nie. Ek vind ook die toenemende toegeneëndheid van Prince Albert se mense teenoor my en my gesin verbly-dend. Dit is vir my lekker om dorp toe te gaan en baie later terug te kom as beplan omdat mense oral aan die gesels geraak het. Dankie dat u ook aan my aantoon dat daar steeds ‘n vertrouingsvehouding bestaan. Ek en my gesin is gemeenskapsmense en is lief vir die Karoo.

Dit raak nou tyd in hierdie skool-gemeenskap om te besef dat enkeles se vendetta ‘n gesin geweldig seermaak. Aan elke individu met persoonlike probleme: u weet waar my kantoor is. Ek is oop, toegangklik en ek luister – maak gebruik daarvan – Anoniem ook! As u enige gedagtewisseling hierna opmerk, maak asb kontak en vind die ware feite uit.
Ek beskou hierdie saak nou as afgehandel Dit raak nou tyd vir die skoolgemeenskap om te sê: stap nou aan, ons wil wérk vir die hierdie skool.

Ons kan nie langer energie inploeg in negatiewiteit nie. Ons wil nou voortgaan om die skool verder te ontwikkel. Hier lê enorme potensiaal. Ek kan nie langer my positiewe energie gebruik om negatiewe mense te voed nie. Tot dan bly ek en my personeel UT PROSIM - tot u diens.

R McKnight
Hoërskool Zwartberg

A salute to our generous community

Anybody who thought that community spirit is something of the past should have been at the Prince Albert skousaal in late November 2009. It was a truly moving experience for my family to see the entire community coming out – at no little cost to themselves – in support of our son Richard.

Besides the obvious financial help this meant to Richard and his fiancée Fiona, it meant so much to our entire family. It reaffirmed our belief in the inherent goodness of people, of all backgrounds, when it comes to helping their fellow man. Rich and poor, young and old, friends and strangers – everybody seemed prepared to help.

I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again: We, as a family, salute the community of Prince Albert!

No words will adequately thank you all, but we really would like to thank all the organizers of the event and all the musicians – Slamjam, Therene and Bodo. A special word of thanks, too, to Jeremy Freemantle for his spirited exhibition of the ‘Twist’ and to Das who supplied me with the Jack Daniels – and thanks to all those who helped me finish it.

Richard is recovering slowly but surely, but unfortunately his left hand is still virtually paralysed and the prospects of his being able to work are still slight. The funds collected by the community of Prince Albert will be a great help in keeping Richard and Fiona going for the next few months. Thank you all again.

Megan en ek is waarlik trots om deel te wees van ‘n gemeenskap waar almal –tot self vreemdelinge – so gewillig is om te help. Die goeie wense, gebede en boodskappe wat ons tydens Richard se ongeluk gekry het was ‘n voorbeeld van Prince Albert se groot hart, maar die byeenkoms by die skousaal in November het ons verstom!

Soos ons jongste seun Jake (wie ook vir ‘n paar maande in Prince Albert kom bly) dit so mooi opgesom het: “ Ek kan nie wag om deel te wees van ‘n gemeenskap wat so ‘n groot hart het nie.”

Baie dankie aan elke een van julle.

Pete Reinders

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