‘Bring a rock to Union’ – When dreams become reality thanks to teamwork!
The long walkway between the Bruce Maree Gates and the Union was an area of the school campus that needed a new look! The strip road alongside the Puttick field was a little tatty, and the exotic cypresses that grew there were messy and didn’t allow for any grass to grow. When Headmaster, Mr Pringle mentioned this at a Governing Body meeting, the team immediately sprung to action, determined to make a change! Kevin Watermeyer dreamed of a beautiful area that could somehow symbolise each and every learner at school – past or present, and at the same time bring the beauty of our Karoo onto the campus. The ‘Bring a Rock to Union’ project was subsequently conceptualised under the management of hands-on parent Joan McNaughton.
Phase 1 included appealing to the Union family to “Bring a rock to Union”, and soon a healthy pile of rocks started to materialise at the ‘Rock Drop Zone’. The idea was for each learner to bring a rock that would symbolise their time at Union.
Realising that the area to be paved was far larger than anticipated, the Watermeyer family offered a donation of flat rocks from their farm ‘Zuurplaats’. But we were now stuck with the problem of how to transport about 30 tonnes of rock from about 50kms away to Union!
Local businessman and parent Campbell Scott was approached and very generously loaned the school his 10 tonne truck to transport the rocks – and this took more than 1 trip! Without him, the project would have been incredibly difficult, if not impossible. So now there were rocks on a farm and trucks – and rocks don’t just hop onto trucks!
Mr Donald Kingwill and Mr Sparrius gathered up a team of our strongest Arthur Kingwill House boys and they headed off one Saturday to ‘Grootklip’ with Mr Pringle. While Lisa Watermeyer provided the lads with lunch and refreshments, they spent the day collecting and loading many tonnes of rock. Mr Pringle later said that he had never seen a group of boys work so hard.
Another amazing thing happened as one of the lads lifted a rock, spotting a snake which they thought was a puffadder. Kevin documented the snake and sent a photo off to a group of conservationists called ‘Bionerds’, who identified the snake as a rare Plain Mountain Adder. It was later confirmed to be the 12th ever recording of this elusive snake!
Joan McNaughton now had rocks, and fabulous donations of cement from the McNaughton, Broeksma, Rogers, Beaumont, Sullivan, Brotherton, Bouwer and Hesselink families as well as a cash donation from Johann Botha, and time was ticking. Having worked with rock paving in the past, and with an artistic eye, David Langmead, chairman of our SGB, got the ball rolling and alongside builders Manus, Anthony and James with the help of Mr Kingwill and Joan, started digging out and laying the Karoo rocks. While they were at work, Union learners ambled past, adding commentary and appreciation as to how the area was transforming in the space of a week. Matric learner, Mtha Mzimba spoke of how much it meant to him that he had helped collect the rocks and how he now felt that a little piece of himself was embedded into the Union Grounds. Moral support, cups of tea and coffee and appreciation from those who witnessed the project coming into fruition were much appreciated. Mr Kingwill also took the opportunity to cut down the exotic cypresses along the walkway to give the indigenous stinkwood trees planted there more space and light to grow.
The project will still take a while to complete, but it has been an incredible testament to what vision, teamwork and generosity can do for a school! So in the next few weeks, if you have a spare few hours, put on your work clothes and join the team who are busy ‘Laying rocks for Union’, and leave a little legacy for our beautiful school. Any further donations of cement and flat rocks will be much appreciated as the area is a little larger than anticipated!