Newsletter | 2nd Term 2018

Dear Friends

May is normally a wonderfully tranquil month in the Drakensberg. The gardens are filled with the sounds of sunbirds and sugarbirds and the aloes are in full bloom. It is truly a magnificent time! It would be great to sip tea on the grass and take in the beauty but there is much-to- do on the fundraising calendar! We hosted our annual Royal Drak MTB & Trail Run in April and then our Big5Hike in May. Both events were incredibly successful and they help in keeping our precious school operational. We thank every sponsor, every helper and every supporter. Read more below:

N3TC Royal Drak MTB & Trail Run – Megan Bedingham

During the month of April we hosted this wonderful event in our valley. Three MTB options and two Trail Running races. There was fabulous participation and I took on the challenge of running the 20km Trail Run. I run occasionally and rely heavily on my “built-in” fitness because I climb a small hill every day to get to my house but I really do battle to do things consistently! So, our training programme began well but sort-of-petered-out at the very end. The day arrived and as we headed out the marshal decided to give us a little warm-up loop! So, 5kms later we were back at the beginning. Since my longest run had been 11kms I wasn’t really sure I’d make it to the end! Well, the trails were truly magnificent, the company fantastic and the incredibly thing is that the body is much stronger than we think! Particularly if we allow the mind to knuckle-down, we can get much done! Loretta & Chris hosted the event at All Out Adventures and it was, as always, brilliant. Great organisation, a great vibe and in a truly great space. We are so grateful to everyone that gets involved to make these events a success and especially to the long-standing supporters that come out time and time again!

The Big 5 Hike – Kevin Mackenzie

The Big5Hike took place in May and is our largest fundraiser of the year. The weekend has become the highlight for many. Starting on Friday our teachers welcomed all the walkers at The Cavern for Registration. The Saturday started early and the first batch of walkers left in the misty darkness at 6:30am. The teachers, together with the Cavern team, helped carry lunch all the way up to Cannibal Cavern to supply all the hungry hikers with freshly-made, delicious Wimpy burgers supplied by Wimpy Harrismith. The lunch was warm and the champagne cold which was welcomed by the weary participants. With lunch over, the final stretch of the walk takes place across Surprise Ridge. The muscles are generally tight but bellies are full. With the final peak of Camels Hump conquered, the walkers return to the Cavern via a very steep downhill which one hopes the legs will survive.

Our Grade 5 pupils were waiting for the walkers to cross the finish line. Our pupils welcomed them in, with a small token of our appreciation, in the form of a handmade keyring. Later in the evening, after a wonderful warm shower, the speeches and special thank you’s were delivered. The pupils, with a few tears and blisters, had made packs of coasters for the major sponsors and contributors. The grade 4 and 5 learners spent hours learning to sand and how to oil and then varnish in order to be able to make them beautiful. This event raised approximately a million rand which is vital to the continuation of the school.
Once again I would like to thank all the sponsors and walkers for their contribution to the longevity of our school.

Georgie Carter delivered an inspiring speech –

Merit Day – Claire du Toit

For merit day, learners at school have to work hard throughout the term to earn their ten merits. At the end of each term the learners who earn these merits get rewarded for their hard work and good behaviour. Merits are individualised and awarded according to each child’s personal achievement. For merit day the pre-school decorated marie biscuits with icing and sweets at the Natural Pool. Once they had devoured their biscuits they played hide-and-seek and the teachers joined in!

The grade one class were treated to delicious milkshakes at The Cavern. Smarties and Astros were added to the milkshakes which made the milkshakes extra appetising. The grade two and three class enjoyed a picnic at the jungle gym at The Cavern. They ate hotdogs and played pass-the-parcel. Once the grade ones had finished their milkshakes they joined the grade two’s and three’s at the jungle gym where they played. The grade four’s and five’s had lunch at The Cavern for their merit reward. They were taught table etiquette and experienced a few new flavours such as olives. Loads of fun was had by all!

Reach for a Dream – Sue Kraupner

On Friday 11 May 2018, we joined the rest of South Africa in a fund raising effort to give hope to those children suffering from life-threatening diseases. We explained to our learners that some children with terminal illnesses spend months in hospitals or clinics and are unable to lead a normal life. Through “Reach for a Dream” they are possibly given a chance to fulfil a dream such as to meet a celebrity, accompany a TV presenter or a fireman or even swim in the sea…

We encouraged our learners and teachers to be part of this noteworthy fundraiser by donating R5 or more, and to wear slippers and/or pyjamas to school. The turnout was wonderful and our school was filled with fluffy slippers, pyjamas and gowns! It was humbling to watch some of our little people putting their hard saved coins into our “Reach for a Dream” tin!

We encourage our children to follow their dreams through healthy living, hard work, determination and the ability to look forward and not to dwell on the past as this will contribute to making our children and this country a success! I was proud to witness one of our core values of kindness shining through by each child trying to help another. Royal Drakensberg Primary donated R425,10 to Reach for a Dream.

Beanies and Jerseys – Melanie van Zyl

Last year an Old Age Home from Pinetown were kind enough to spend many hours knitting the most beautiful jerseys and beanies for the learners in our school. The box filled with colourful, warm garments was kept safely until the icy winter came.

The jerseys and beanies were handed out to learners who are in need of warmer things. Learners were incredibly excited to try on their beautiful new jerseys and beanies for those freezing mornings in the berg. We are incredibly grateful to the sweet ladies who took the time and effort to put together gorgeous colours with stunning little buttons. Learners come to school proudly wearing their cozy new attire.

Our Challenges Shared – Megan Bedingham

Recently we were invited to present to a corporate for funding for Royal Drakensberg Primary and we are very pleased to have been awarded some assistance. What the exercise did make us do was to calculate carefully what our actual spend per child is. For an independent school, with no government funding, we believe R26 000 per child is a reasonable amount given that each child is transported to school, they receive a bowl of porridge on arrival, wonderful teaching and all within a nurturing environment. We have always worked with determination and just had faith that we’d cover our expenses and fortunately this has always been the case but it is important to reflect more carefully and it has given us good insight into our needs.

Having completed the exercise we have identified 3 challenges. Our first is that our parents cannot afford to pay the full fees of R1500 per month over 10 months, the second is that our expenses are greater than the fees we get in. And, thirdly, we do need to continue striving for long-term financial sustainability.

Our Big5Hike has helped us begin a savings annuity for the future but should anyone like to contribute on a monthly basis towards the top-up costs or towards a child, we’d be most grateful. We remain committed to making a real difference in the lives of the children and we are so pleased to have many of you with us on this journey.

A Final Word

We are new members of the Independent Schools’ Association of South Africa (ISASA) and have been featured in their Winter Magazine.

The Winter 2018 edition of Independent Education magazine available online at the following link:

Our best wishes to you all over the holidays. Keep warm and thank you for the continued interest and support!

Kind regards,

Megan & Loretta

Newsletter | 1st Term 2018

Dear Friends of Royal Drakensberg

2018 began with much excitement and are larger influx of children into our pre-primary section. What a blessing and a joy it is to see these little people happy and excited to be at school. Mam-Idah and Mam-Irene have them actively engaged and learning takes place in a nurturing space. We share some news from Term 1 below.

Valentine’s Day – Idah Khumalo & Irene Mkhulisi

We hosted our Valentine’s Day celebration on Thursday the 15th of February. The children decorated 2 biscuits, one for themselves and one to share with their parents or caregivers. The children came to school dressed in red, pink and white clothes. The parents were invited to the Valentine’s celebration to watch their children perform poems and songs. The children were extremely excited to see their parents at school.

Each class put on a performance. The pre-primary classes sang a song called “It’s Love that Makes the World Go Around”. They also re-enacted one of their favourite stories about a rabbit. Their performance was excellent and they showed great confidence. The grade R class sang a song about God’s love with actions. The grade 1 class said a poem called “The Angry Valentine”. The grade 2 and 3 class performed a dance to the song “Accidentally in Love”. The grade 4 class recited a poem called “A Valentine for Mom” and the grade 5’s recited a poem called “Porcupine Valentine”. All the parents excitedly clapped and cheered for their children.

The parents enjoyed their time at school and appreciated tea and biscuits after the performances. The children drank juice and ate their decorated biscuits. It was a special day indeed.

Smartboards – Kevin Mackenzie

With the introduction of smart boards into our classrooms, our ability to integrate technology into our lessons for the learners has grown. The smartboards were donated to us by John Mckenzie. Smartboards put simply, are a sophisticated replacement of the traditional overhead projector. Over the term the boards have proved popular for students of all ages. The interactive board turns a typical classroom into a fun learning environment with the children actively involved in the lessons. The boards help bring the wider world into our learners lives. The Elephant Class in particular have been using the boards to learn how to create PowerPoint presentations to convey information.

We utilize PowerPoint for flash cards and access to the internet to view video content. The smartboard has helped to develop visual learners, while supporting our more kinaesthetic learners in their need for movement. The change in lessons has helped to maintain leaners focus consistently on the board as the interactive media sound and movement is engaging in the current climate of children’s use of technology. Our leaners are relating to it in a way I had not imagined.

Keys to Reading – Melanie van Zyl

Throughout the first term we have learned so much about letters and reading in fun and exciting ways. The learners have been able to use so many different methods of learning which has made it easier to recognise and remember new letters using each child’s unique learning style.

Our clever grade R’s are now able to easily recite the alphabet song. They can also recognise many sounds and will soon be able to recognise the whole alphabet.

This term they have written letters in shaving cream which was lovely for the learners who are tactile. For the visual and auditory learners we created stories and movies with the different letters. We watched and listened to these stories and sounds on a presentation shown on one of our brand new Smartboards. The children also used their bodies to make letters on the grass which helps the kinaesthetic learners.

The grade R’s had so much fun doing obstacle courses using musical instruments, bean bags as well as the jungle gym which turned into a fun test to practise recognising our letters. We also played a game where the learner who recognises the letter first has to catch a ball.

Their excitement for learning has grown and they now create their own games to revise the letters they have already learnt. The teachers at Royal Drakensberg Primary School are tremendously proud of how much our learners have done in only one term and we believe that it will just get better.

The Introduction of NumberSense – James Barnard

An exciting new opportunity has been implemented by our teachers at the Royal Drakensberg Primary School. NumberSense is a wonderful addition to our way of teaching Mathematics. This year, NumberSense has been introduced into the classroom and students are having a positive response towards this new idea of teaching Mathematics concretely. Learners are using methods which involve kinaesthetic and tactile styles which helps our learners gain a deeper understanding of using different numbers. For example, students are required to use objects such as beans or counters. By using this method, learners find a way in which to comprehend numbers more thoroughly. We have seen evidence of learners improving their bonds and tables in a practical way which helps apply the knowledge learned on the carpet into their everyday learning, both in and out of the classroom. Teaching NumberSense is just that, making sense of numbers. By making sense of numbers, learners will eventually gain confidence and have a positive attitude towards Mathematics. This will remove the “taboo” or negative feelings that Mathematics is difficult. The Royal Drakensberg Primary excitedly embrace NumberSense to improve our young minds for the future.

Easter Egg Hunt – Claire du Toit

The much awaited Easter Egg Hunt took part on the 21st of March. The learners walked up the mountain enthusiastically as they anticipated what Easter treats were waiting for them at the Boma. The Easter Bunny had hidden a bag for each child in the trees and bushes. Once the children had arrived at the Boma they went in search for their special bag. As soon as all of the children had found their treats we all sat together and the children devoured most of their delicious chocolates. Many of them kindly saved a few chocolates for siblings and parents at home. This is definitely a highlight of the term and is an event the children look forward to with great delight.

Final Word

What a delight to end the term with a bag of treats! The children have worked hard and their teachers have supported them in their learning. It is an exciting and inspiring space!

We are reminded of the extensive work needed to ensure that South Africa is a successful nation and we do believe that the work through Royal Drakensberg helps us address the past and uplift the children for the future.

The DG Murray Trust’s video clip is wonderful.

Children need love, food, safety and stimulation for success.

With our best wishes,

Megan & Loretta

Newsletter | 4th Term 2017

Dear Friends

The school year has come to an end and as South Africans we have received alarming news! Recent results reveal that 80% of Grade 4 children in South Africa are not able to read with understanding. Sadly if children cannot learn to read, how will they read to learn in the higher grades? This trend results in children dropping out of school and while it is distressing it once again reaffirms the importance of our work at Royal Drakensberg Primary.

The greatest need is in the rural areas and it also supports our move to focus more on pre-primary and foundation phase education as we believe this is where the greatest need in our community lies. We share our news below:

Future Plans

In 2018 we will continue to offer Grade 4 & 5 but will drop a grade in 2019, only offering classes up to Grade 4. As 2020 approaches, we will reassess our position financially and the children’s progress and will possibly drop a further grade, if necessary. These changes will result in us having more spaces available to offer in the pre-primary phase which will help ensure that the children are better equipped to begin formal learning in Grade 1. Early Childhood Development is crucial for success.

Emily Cotterill will be leaving us at the end of Term 1 and we are looking for a competent, enthusiastic and loving teacher to join our team. Please email if you would like to apply or pass on details on to anyone who may be interested in making a valuable contribution to teaching in the Drakensberg.

The Nativity Play – Melanie van Zyl

On the 30th of November 2017, the preschool and grade 1’s staged their Nativity Play at The Cavern. All the children arrived at The Cavern at 4 o’clock. Once they were off-loaded, we gave them dinner before getting ready for the play. The children were extremely excited and eager to perform for their families.

Once dinner was finished, they dressed and settled into their places to wait for the play to begin! The parents started filing into the Games Room at 6 o’clock. We were blessed to have an outstanding turn-out to see our little ones perform.

The children were all thoroughly involved in the production and kept up an enthusiastic presence. We are extremely proud of all our little ones who worked hard throughout the term to learn their lines and actions. They all tried their utmost to say their lines correctly and were able to project their voices so that the audience could hear the comical jokes.

Thank you to each parent and family member who encouraged their child in preparation for the play.

Sungubala Eco-Camp – Words by Emily Cotterill and the Grade 2’s

In the beginning of the fourth term, the grade 1, 2 and 3 classes enjoyed a sleep-over at Sungubala Eco Camp. The children arrived at school on the Wednesday with their bags packed and ready for an adventure. We were thankful that Khulu Peter offered to drive the children’s bags to Sungubala. While this was happening, the teachers and the children departed on an exciting walk up to the Camp. Along the way the children came across different coloured bandannas and as they found a bandanna they were put into the three different teams depending on the colour they found.

At the Camp the children played games in their teams and competed against one another for the rest of the afternoon. The children had great team spirit and thoroughly enjoyed supporting each other during the races.

They then settled down to read books and colour-in pictures while waiting for their dinner. For pudding, the children made their own smores with Marie biscuits, marshmallows and chocolate spread. They enthused…”We loved using the chocolate spread and melted marshmallows to make our pudding” and “After dinner we got to play more games like face the cookie and balloon pop”

The next day we packed up all our belongings and went for a walk. They were delighted, “We went looking for dragons” and exclaimed “There were caves in the mountains and that’s where the dragons live”. The imagination of the young mind is boundless.

We had the most incredible time at Sungubala and can’t wait to go again. One child responded, “Our outing to Sungubala was our favourite part of our year” and another, “I love playing games and spending time with my friends.”

Thank you to all our friends of the Royal Drakensberg Primary School for donating food and money to make this amazing sleep-out happen. Special thanks to Peter and Rhona Carte for allowing us the use of Sungubala Eco Camp.

Our Outing to Eskom Pump Storage Scheme -S’bongakonke Radebe Gr 5

The grade 4 and 5 learners were fortunate enough to go the Eskom hydro-electrical generation scheme near Jagersrust, accompanied by Sir and Maám Sue. Arriving at the visitor’s centre, there was no indication that there is a massive power plant in the area, other than seeing some power lines running through the hills. We later found out that most of the generation system was far underground with only the dams visible. Four dams make up the entire scheme. These dams include Woodstock Dam, Jagersrust holding dam, Kilburn Dam and Driekloof Dam. The Pump system can also be used to send water to Johannesburg when they are in need of water. The water is pumped up 48 meters from Woodstock Dam into a canal that then moves the water to the holding dam where it is later pumped into Driekloof Dam, which is in the Free State. The weir is then opened to allow water into Sterkfontein Dam, where the water is released to run into the Vaal.

The way in which they generate power is by allowing gravity and a cone shaped tunnel system to push water through a Francis turbine that then turns the generators, which create 28 KWH to be supplied into the national grid of South Africa. The system uses 1.2 KWH to create 1KWH, but they use power at night when everyone is sleeping to get ready for the next day. At the visitor’s centre we walked around viewing scale models of all the major equipment used in the scheme. There was a bicycle that is connected to a small generator which powered a light bulb. We found that the faster we peddled the brighter the light bulb shone. When we asked why they did not make the turbine spin faster to create more electricity they said it was because they could not store enough water. The scheme was named as an engineering marvel during the 1980’s. My friends and I never knew that there was so much more to electricity than turning on a switch at home.

Market day – Candice Clark

On the 2nd of November 2017, we held a lovely and successful Market Day at school. Fun filled the air as the students helped their teachers set up their stations for the event. Each teacher provided a fun activity and sold different items at an affordable cost.

The items for sale at Market Day were candles, cards and bags that the children had made as their E.M.S project this term. The other stalls at Market Day included, ‘the toy shop’ stall where many children crowded around purchasing fun toys for less than R5.00. A sand art stand welcomed many children and they were able to create exciting pictures. A nail painting stall provided an opportunity to many happy little girls who wanted their nails painted by ladies from the Cavern Spa. Different foods were available for the children and their families to enjoy.
These included a tea garden, sherbet stand, an ice- cream stall, a hot dog stand as well as delicious fudge which was home-made and sold by a past pupil, Boeloe. The kitchen staff from the Cavern Resort also sold fresh vegetables to many of the children’s parents and visitors who joined in at Market day. Many games were played at Market day too. These games included tenpin bowling, guess how many smarties are in the jar and surprise on a string.

Market Day was a happy day filled with much excitement and joy and learning about money. We are so thankful to all the children for their help in setting up the stalls as well as for following their shift times and for helping their teachers control the in-flow and out-flow of money at their stalls.

Our Hike to Cannibal Cavern – Fortunate Khumalo Gr 5

After school, on a sunny Thursday afternoon, the Elephant Class set off for Cannibal Cave with our teachers leading the way. The first part of the hike was very tiring and we had only made it up to the Cavern Hotel. The route we were taking allowed us to sit and rest numerous times, at lovely look- out points. We stopped for afternoon tea at Pascoe’s Pool, where we ate muffins baked by Miss Claire and Miss Emily. The last section up to Cannibal Cave was very steep and my legs were burning with the effort of getting there. The cave was a welcome sight as we could put our heavy packs down to rest for a while.

We were shown where we would be sleeping and sent to prepare our sleeping bags for the evening. We needed fire wood to cook that night so the boys fetched wood and made a fire while the girls and I helped set up the kitchen area. We had a welcome surprise as Chris and Pierre arrived to spend the evening with us. They kindly brought boerewors to braai which was a treat. I really enjoyed the games we played while dinner was being prepared. We played broken-telephone, which is my favourite. The teachers split us into groups and told us we would be singing for our supper. The group who sang the best would be served first. My group won! We were also allowed to roast marshmallows over the camp fire before bed. Yum!

Going to bed was fun because the cave was scary with all the shadows dancing around. Some of the girls were talked for a long time after bed time, telling scary stories, trying to unnerve each other. As the evening progressed, the night got cold with the mist blowing into the cave.

We woke up early the next morning and were greeted by the teachers having already made tea and biscuits for us. We played more games before packing away our sleeping areas.

For breakfast we ate porridge which warmed me up. We were soon ready to walk back down to school. The day was cold and rainy; with the mist so low we could not see our surroundings. I am glad the teachers knew the way home. We did not make many stops walking down as we were all looking forward to some warmth. The Cavern had prepared crunchies and hot chocolate for us which warmed us all up.

Smart Boards- Claire du Toit

Royal Drakensberg Primary School has been incredibly blessed by receiving a donation of four Smart Boards. These Smart Boards have been installed in the grade 1 class, grade 2 & 3 class, grade 4 & 5 class and in the Media Room. Heartfelt thanks goes to Neville Kerdachi and John McKenzie who were our generous benefactors.

Thank you to Leo Stagg who oversaw the installation of the Smart Boards. Leo will return next year to give our teachers a workshop on how to use the Smart Boards innovatively in the classroom. Thank you to Vishal and Petrus from the EditMicro team who worked speedily and efficiently to install our Smart Boards. The teachers at RDP are incredibly excited to explore the possibilities of using these Smart Boards in the classroom. Thank you once again to everyone who made this possible for our wonderful little school.

Goodbye to Candice Clark – Sue Kraupner

We have had the privilege of working with Candice at Royal Drakensberg Primary School this year. She has been a wonderful teacher to the grade 3 learners, who have benefited greatly from her quiet but firm approach, which is an environment in which children flourish. We sadly say “good bye” to Miss Candice and thank her for her contribution during 2017. We wish her well with her travel plans in 2018!

Final Word

We would like to thank you all for your generous support and encouragement this year. It has been a very positive year with wonderful developments in our curriculum. We look forward to growing from strength to strength in 2018.

Have a blessed Christmas and be safe on our roads.

Best wishes,

Megan & Loretta

Newsletter | 3rd Term 2017

Dear Friends

When Term 3 draws to an end we know it’s a downhill run to Christmas! It all started with Mandela Day in July. Guests from The Cavern joined the children at school and spent 67 minutes reading and face painting. It was a beautiful interaction and just lovely to see the sharing of stories, time and a little bit of love. And it has been an action packed term ending with our school play, The Gruffalo.

Continue reading “Newsletter | 3rd Term 2017”

Newsletter | 2nd Term 2017

Dear Friends,

Winter has descended on the Drakensberg but it is a wonderful season with clear blue skies and crisp fresh air. The days are cooler so we are very grateful to Shirley Mackenzie and her team of ladies for our wonderful donation of 10 blankets for 10 years. Royal Drakensberg celebrates 10 years of quality education! The children completed their term with a winter wonderland soccer fest. We share our latest happenings here….

Continue reading “Newsletter | 2nd Term 2017”

Newsletter | 1st Term 2017

Dear Friends,

This year we welcomed 3 new teachers to Royal Drakensberg, Candice Clark teaching Grade 3, Emily Cotterill guiding our Grade 2 class and Claire du Toit working hard with our Grade 1 group as they begin their more formal education journey. They have all been warmly received and the children are enthusiastic and excited about learning. Following a recent visit to the school, a Cavern guest mentioned the happiness of the children in this small space. If children are happy to be at school, so much more can be achieved! Continue reading “Newsletter | 1st Term 2017”

Newsletter | 2nd Term 2016

Dear Friends

It’s midyear, the temperatures have dropped and the mountainside has changed to subtle tones of brown and orange. It’s a particularly lovely time in the berg because the days are filled with soft sunshine and hiking and mountain biking are fantastic in these conditions. We have even had a little dusting of snow on the peaks surrounding our school and this is a real South African highlight!

Since our last newsletter we have hosted our two important fundraisers, Royal Drakensberg MTB Challenge and the Big5Hike. Our school term ended with our Winter Wonderland soccer fest with all the children championing for their teams and so we share our news with you… Continue reading “Newsletter | 2nd Term 2016”

Newsletter | 1st Term 2016

Dear Friends

Term 1 has come and gone. Just 9 weeks but filled with wonderful activity and learning. We welcomed Mary Campbell to Grade 1 and Irene Mkhulisi to our team and under the careful guidance of Mrs Sue Kraupner we continue to see wonderful progress.

We share a few happy happenings from Term 1 below. Continue reading “Newsletter | 1st Term 2016”