Union completes symbolic stone pathway
At Union High School, the long walkway between the Bruce Maree Gates and The Union was an area of the school campus that needed to be upgraded, and thanks to the vision, commitment and artistic flair of some dedicated members of the school community, that makeover was recently realised.
The strip road alongside the Puttick field was a little bare, and the exotic cypresses that grew there were messy and did not allow for any grass to grow.
When headmaster, William Pringle, mentioned this at a School Governing Body (SGB) meeting, the idea was picked up with enthusiasm. Kevin Watermeyer envisaged an area that could somehow symbolise each and every learner at school, past and present, and at the same time bring the beauty of the surrounding Karoo onto the campus.
The ‘Bring a Rock to Union’ project was subsequently conceptualised under the management of enthusiastic parent Joan Mcnaughton.
The first phase 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. However, it was soon realised that the area to be paved was far larger than anticipated, and the Watermeyer family kindly offered a donation of flat rocks from their farm Zuurplaats. This generous offer brought logistical problems of its own, as around 30 tonnes of rock needed to be transported to the school from the farm, about 50kms away.
Local businessman and parent Campbell Scott was approached and very generously loaned the school his 10-tonne truck to transport the rocks.
Donald Kingwill and Hanno Sparrius then gathered up a team of the strongest Arthur Kingwill House boys and they headed off one Saturday to Zuurplaats, accompanied by the headmaster. Lisa Watermeyer provided the team with lunch and refreshments, which were richly deserved after a day of collecting and loading many tonnes of rock. Pringle later said that he had never seen a group of boys work so hard! It was during this excursion that a snake was found under a rock which was initially thought to be a puff adder. From photographs, it was later identified as a rare Plain Mountain Adder, an endangered dwarf adder species, found only in a very small area in the Eastern Cape It was also confirmed to be only the twelfth ever recording of this elusive snake.
With sufficient rocks and generous donations of cement received from the Mcnaughton, Broeksma and Hesselink families, the paving project was set to start in earnest. Having worked with rock paving in the past, and with an artistic eye, chairman of the SGB David Langmead set to work. Alongside builders Manus, Anthony and James, and with the help of Donald Kingwill and Joan Mcnaughton, he 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 already in a short space of time. 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 by the workers. 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 last rock needed to complete this project was put in place this week and the end result is an incredible testament to what vision, teamwork and generosity can do for a school.