School’s march to win

Caleb Smith leads the drill event last week. Inset: The marching band at the WP drilling competition.

Sporadic shooting, gangsterism, drugs and teenage pregnancy are just some of the issues faced daily by the youngsters of Parkwood but staff at Fairmount Secondary School are hoping to change this through the school’s dedicated marching band.
It might not seem like a plausible plan on the face of it but principal Terrence Klassen is confident their drilling programme will have the outcome they desire.

The school started the marching band three years ago and have been proving to be a force to be reckoned with.
Earlier this month, they walked away with multiple first prize awards at the Western Province Annual Marching Championship, which was held at Blue Downs Stadium.

The school won trophies for best exhibition, best grand march past, highest over score, first for drumming and second for best dressed.

Earlier this year the squad also participated in a marching competition held in Port Elizabeth and have also done their drilling marches at several events in and around Parkwood.

Mr Klassen said the marching band’s success has resulted in renewed confidence in not just the squad members, but also other pupils at the school.

“The marching band has vastly improved over the three years and this year they won first prize in most of the divisions,” he said.

He adds that pupils who are part of the marching band have shown huge improvements in their academic results as well.

“I believe that a number of learners who are in the marching band would have been drop-outs if they were not part of the band because many of our kids come from dysfunctional homes. In the band the learners are taught discipline and they have to be dedicated. It improves memory and focus and it creates a sense of comraderie which many of the teens are yearning for and as a result they join gangs. The band gives them a positive space to be with like-minded pupils instead of the alternative,” said Mr Klassen.

Community leader Chad Crowley, who is also part of the fundraising team for the band, said the marching band is a good way of keeping the teens off the streets.

“Those in the band can be seen at the school during the week, practising. That is one of the strategies to prevent them from being recruited by gangsters. If more children join the band, I think it would definitely alleviate gangsterism in the area and even the rest of the Western Cape,” said Mr Crowley.

“Discipline, determination and dedication is what’s taught in the band and that’s what youngsters need to make them want to strive for more in their lives,” said Mr Crowley.

Grade 11 pupil Nadine-Lee Servon has been part of the band since it started and said it has definitely had a positive effect on her.

“My school work improved, I am more focused and I made new friends. I love being part of the team,” she said.
Grade 9 pupils Zahier Oliver and Mogamat Abdol said they joined the band out of curiousity but have been hooked ever since.
“With all the bad elements in our community, this takes us out of the situation because we also get to travel a lot for competitions,”said Zahier.

Drummer Mogamat said he will stay in the band up until matric. “I am glad I joined the band and I am proud of the band. I’m looking forward to teach the small children how to use the drums,” he said.

The school will also be giving those involved in the band opportunities at False Bay College and refer them to the army, navy and police.

The school is on a mission to try and start a junior squad and want primary schools to join.
For more information call the school on 021 705 1826.