Official Opening of Centenary Walkway

On Friday evening Mr Pringle invited those who had been involved with the Centenary Walkway to the official opening of this beautiful new addition to Union. In his speech of appreciation Mr Pringle said the following:

“Welcome everyone and thank you for attending and being at the school on a Friday evening. We felt that it would be proper and fitting to host a small gathering of the people who were involved in the realisation of this project and to acknowledge this. At the end of last year, everyone left so hastily upon the completion of the project, so we didn’t get a chance to celebrate what has been achieved.

This project began in our minds somewhere early last year, and through a series of discussions and conversations it evolved into what we see today. It involved a significant amount of organisation and hard labour, generosity of good people from our community and kindness and passion for our school. Joan put up her hand and got the ball rolling, calling on folk to assist where they could, requesting that rock be donated and delivered, and getting her hands dirty with the actual labour as well.

I think back to the day that Mr Sparrius, Mr Kingwill and I travelled with the Arthur Kingwill House boys to Zuurplaats and met Kevin, Lisa, Peter and their staff, and how well we were hosted as we enjoyed a braai in the veld, and how we found the rare Mountain Adder under a rock. Peter just took charge and drove the tractor and trailer and marshalled his troops and before we knew it, the job was done.

Then it was having the rock brought to the school all the way from the farm, and for that we are so grateful to Campbell who gives so much to our schools. Without you, Campbell, that rock might still be sitting in a pile on the farm. And then Kevin and Peter went and collected more rock on the farm, all by themselves, and Campbell again assisted us and delivered the rock to the school. Kevin and Lisa, we are so grateful to you for your generosity and kindness, and for your commitment and passion for our school.

It was at this time that donations of pockets of cement and other material started arriving at the school. We were repeatedly left astounded by the generosity of our community as every time the cement ran low, a bakkie would arrive and we would be able to continue the work. To those of you who contributed in this way, thank you.
I would like to acknowledge the many men who worked as casual labourers and who came and went as the project progressed. Some lasted longer than others, but they all played a role. Kevin, if you would extend our thanks to your staff who were a tremendous help.

To Donald who provided so much practical advice, support and whose expertise and knowledge of this sort of project was invaluable. I will never forget the hard work and sweat that went into removing trees from this walkway. Donald, they broke the mould when they made you, and we are so very grateful to you for your work here, but more than that; for the man that you are and for what you mean to this school and community. Thank you very much.

But without the effort of David, and, of course, the support of Bronwen who was ever present providing refreshments, coffee or snacks and did her fair share of the labour, this project would not have been realised. David worked for a full month on his hands and knees laying this stone, in the most intense summer heat, checking that each stone was level, that the length and breadth of that section was level, and that a quality of workmanship was maintained throughout. And when the work was nearing completion, he didn’t hasten to get it done, it morphed even further and suddenly a plan was made to level the water furrows and, with the assistance of Kevin and Peter, to source a fabulous Karoo rock on which to engrave the school’s crest and the centenary dates, and then a small retaining wall was needed and David collected the rocks and that was built. Your passion for this project was immense and we are very grateful to you for your hard work and for your leadership from the front.

I have been reminded of the value of the people of this community and of what can be achieved when we harness the talents of the people in this community and what can be achieved when we all work together for a common goal. This walkway will be here long after we are gone, and it will always be a reminder to us of that time when we all put our shoulder to the wheel and got the job done. This walkway, constructed of stone from the Karoo and laid by the hands of the Karoo people, an enduring symbol of the people who have built this school is a fitting tribute to those people and to this school on its 100th birthday.

I truly believe that this school’s founders would be proud of what we’ve achieved and of the school that this has become. Please charge your glasses and let’s drink a toast to this fine old school in this milestone year and to the Centenary Way. “To Union High School” – Cheers!”