Union Hosts 40-board Chess Simul

This past Saturday, 31 August, Union High School hosted the first ever simultaneous chess exhibition to be played in the Karoo.

The only learner who managed to beat Kirstein, was Rowan Swemma from Asherville Secondary School – he walked away with a handsome prize of R500.

The competition saw chess aficionado, Mr. Ian Kirstein, playing against 40 chess-loving individuals – at the same time!  Kirstein had to walk from player to player, making his moves after only having had a short chance to assess the board.  His competitors, however, had plenty of time to consider their position and strategy while he was playing the other 39 players.

The day’s longest match lasted 3½ hours, while the majority of the matches lasted 2½ hours.  Kirstein didn’t falter under the pressure and managed to win 36 out of the 40 matches.  He conceded two matches to chess coaches JP Kruger (Union High School) and Morne Naudé (Karel Theron Primêre Skool).

The only learner who managed to beat Kirstein, was Rowan Swemma from Asherville Secondary School – he walked away with a handsome prize of R500.  The last match of the day ended in a draw, with Siphosethu Fortuin playing ’till the bitter end.

This was an inspiring morning of pure chess brilliance and Union would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous contributions that made this event possible: the Prescient Foundation, Blue Magnolia Nursery, Drostdy Toyota, Mrs. Kruger, Dr. Larson, Mrs. Jill Rose-Innes and Karoo Living.

Union hopes to, in future, host more events of this nature to promote chess in the district.

Eco Club

On Friday, 30 August, the members of Union’s Eco-Club met up once again for a most-enjoyable afternoon.

The learners were tasked with putting their knowledge about directions and orientation into practice by studying a map of Graaff-Reinet.

While the activity in itself was a ton of fun, it also served to increase the learners’ knowledge about the beautiful little town

Little Moves of Kindness

Little moves of kindness

How many of us have thought of doing something good for the world and making a difference in someone’s life but never found the time for it?

James Rose-Innes, a Grade 10 learner at Union High School, is not only contributing to the society in his own little way but in the process he is making use of his favourite game, chess, to make a difference!  His initiative to teach the game of chess to children at Vuyani Safe Haven originated as a Life Orientation project, but in time, turned into so much more.

A little while ago, five of Vuyani’s children had no idea what chess was about and now, little over two months later, some of them are representing their respective schools in Interschools matches.  “I am very grateful to the management of Vuyani for allowing me to discover these hidden talents in their kids. Without their hospitality and charitableness, this would not have been possible,” says James.  “I truly believe that an educational activity such as chess can play a vital role to empower and uplift a community,” he continued.  “In chess the learners are taught to think ahead and not just to make any move. Every move you make on the chess board must count – from the very first move in the opening game right through the middle game till the very last move in the end game you must think ahead. Why is it so important to think ahead in real life as in chess? If you do not think ahead and make the wrong moves (choices), such as taking drugs, the game is over and you are in checkmate!”

Union extends its thanks to Vuyani for facilitating James’ coaching sessions and for giving him the opportunity to make a difference while promoting the great game of chess.

Chess – Final Trials

The final trials to select the players that will represent the Chris Hani District at the upcoming South African Junior Chess Championships (SAJCC), were held this past Saturday, 17 August, at Union High School.

The top players from various schools in the district participated.  At the end of the day’s play, nine bright Union minds were among those invited to be a part of the team.

The SAJCC, the largest junior sporting event of any sporting code in South Africa, will be held in Johannesburg from 4 to 12 January 2020.  The event will involve more than 2 300 participants, between the ages of six and 19 years, from across South Africa.

The nine Unionites who will be participating in this epic battle to outsmart each other for the title of national champion in their respective age groups, are (u/18A) James Rose-Innes, Tracy Petitt, Matthew McNaughton, reserve Mihan Campbell, (u/16) Cassidy Goliad, Wade Edwards, (u/14) Na’eem Mahomed, Camran Swartz and reserve Neelan Fourie.

Fun Outing for Snr Chess Players

On Monday afternoon, 19 August, the members of Union’s senior chess team enjoyed a wonderful outing to Coldstream Restaurant.

The outing allowed the learners to break away from their regular old routine and served as a reward for their excellent efforts and great results throughout the year. Thanks to a generous sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous, the youngsters could also enjoy a meal and something to drink.

Union extends its grateful thanks to Mr. Christopher-John Koopman, who offered up his free time to assist with the coaching of these learners every opportunity he got.  In addition, he spoiled the team with a delicious cake for them to share.

Outings such as this one, are very important to Union’s Chess Club as it allows people to see that chess is alive and well as an extra-curricular activity at Union and goes to show just how much every participant enjoys it.

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Santa Shoebox Project

Ten underprivileged children in Graaff-Reinet will receive Christmas gifts this year, thanks to a Union Eco-Schools community outreach project held recently.

In support of the Santa Shoebox Project, a great charity that aims to give underprivileged children (many of whom would otherwise not receive anything over the festive season) a Christmas present, 10 members of the school’s Interact Club, partnered with 23 Eco Clubbers on Friday, 16 August.

The ten teams then made their way to the local shops with money in hand and a list of goods to purchase for a specific recipient of this goodwill project.

Teams had to buy an item of clothing, some toiletries such as soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush and a facecloth, a toy or game and school stationery for the particular child they were shopping for.

Upon their return to school, the teams had to do a reconciliation of funds spent, take off the prices and pack all the items into a shoebox.

They did extremely well and its clear from their purchases that children know best when it comes to buying for their counterparts. They also had so much fun, that they suggested Union do this annually.

The money used for the respective purchases was raised in the second school term, when the school’s staff and learners paid to take part in a civvies day.  This educational, yet enjoyable Eco-Schools community outreach project, is a clear indication that interdependent partnerships are fun and successful.

The ten festively gift-wrapped parcels will soon be handed over to the Santa Shoebox Project in Graaff-Reinet and Union thanks them for the opportunity to get involved in this worthy cause.

Keeping The Blood Pumping!

This morning, Tuesday, 13 August, Union’s learners participated in a blood drive held by the SANBS in the Tony Burrell Union.

Realising that the demand for blood is steady and blood banks count on volunteers to meet the needs of accident victims and patients in need of transfusions, the learners, once again, eagerly supported this initiative.

Annual Primary Speech Competition

The Union primary department’s annual Speech Competition was held in the Tony Burrell Union on Wednesday morning, 31 July.

This year there were 13 learners participating.

Topics ranged from, ‘Strange world records set in history’ and ‘English is a crazy language’, to ‘Crazy inventions’ and ‘Oddest sports’.In accompaniment to the speeches, there were also some lovely poems recited, stories told and articles read aloud by other junior learners throughout the course of the morning.

We would like to congratulate all the participants and thank all those involved. It was pleasing to see so many enthusiastic learners presenting their speeches.  It is not easy to stand before a large audience and deliver a speech and we would like to congratulate all the young learners for their courageous efforts.

(left to right) Anna-May Hayes, Megan Nortje, Caytah-Leigh Koeberg, Na’eem Mahomed, Amber Bezuidenhout, Anebel Norval

Thanks also go to the teachers and parents for supporting and encouraging the learners and for the time spent preparing for the competition.

We would like to thank the judges who gave up their time to support the school by judging our contest.  The judges were very impressed by the high quality of speeches and the obvious preparation that had gone into the day and they commented that everyone did well.

Caytah-Leigh Koeberg was announced as the Grade 7 winner and Na’eem Mahomed as the runner-up.  Anna-May Hayes won in Grade 6 and Megan Nortje was announced as the runner-up.  The winner in Grade 5 is Amber Bezuidenhout with the runner-up being Anebel Norval.


Born To Perform!

Last night (Thursday, 1 August) saw the Union High School hall overflowing with excitement, enthusiasm and entertainment.  The annual Evening of Music was a wonderful showcase of the different music groups here at Union.

From our primary choir and marimba band, through to our senior pianists and violinists, all our musicians demonstrated passion and commitment in the lead up to this fabulous night, culminating in a spectacular evening of performances.

Under the baton of Union’s Department of Music staff, Mmes. Sanette Brink, Zelda van Rooyen and Karmin van der Walt, this evening has become the highlight of the school’s cultural calendar – an event not to be missed.

To start, the primary choir set the tone and standard with their rendition of “You’ll be in my heart” and “All I need to know”.  Union’s pianists then played a series of beautiful works such as the English folk song “Greensleeves” as well as newer songs like “Faded” by Alan Walker.

Following excellent performances by our violinists, a string ensemble – which showcased the skill of ensemble playing – and several talented soloists who graced us with their beautiful voices, the senior choir treated the audience to a heartfelt choral performance, singing “Let the river run” and “Amavolovo”.

A combined performance by the primary and high school choirs with a rendition of “Hallelujah” ended off the evening.

The event truly featured a kaleidoscope of musical items with something for everyone to enjoy.  Congratulations to all those who took part and a big thank you to our many supporters, parents and friends who came along to enjoy the evening.

If you missed this concert, make a “note” not to miss next year’s Music Evening!