To say that 2018 was an eventful year at Unity College is a complete understatement!
My first year at Unity has been an amazing and rewarding experience. I would like to express my appreciation to my staff, learners and parents for their contribution in making 2018 so successful. A special thank you must be extended to my School Management Team for their unwavering support and extremely hard work.
The involvement of Dr Staples has enabled me and the staff to embark on projects that enhanced the teaching environment and improved the aesthetics of the school. Some of the projects were:
- New desks in the classrooms
- New white boards in the classrooms
- Paving in front of the staff rooms
- Upgrading of the area in front of the Principal’s office
- The sinking of two additional boreholes
- Substantial financial investment in the repairs of the school buses
- The refurbishment of the cooking centre
- The painting of the school buildings
- Repairing and upgrading play areas
- Installing new teaching aids and equipment in the Therapy room
It is on a sad note that we say farewell to two of our senior teachers and one of our therapists.
Mrs Anita Wylie started teaching at Unity in January 2004. It has been my privilege to have worked with her for the past 8.5 months.
As the Acting Principal, Mrs Wylie did an outstanding job during very difficult and trying times. She must also be commended for the excellent job she did as the HOD for the Senior Phase.
She has distinguished herself as an expert in her subject field over the years. For me the one thing that stands out, is her very caring nature. She is a true Christian and this was evident in the care and love that she showed the learners that she taught.
Mrs Wylie has decided to spend more time with her family and must add that her decision to retire was not made lightly. Ma’am, you will be missed and may I thank you for the difference that you have made during your time at Unity College.
Mrs Esmé Pelser can be regarded as the Matriarch of Unity College. She stared teaching at Unity in July 1990. During the many years at the school she not only truly made a difference in everybody’s life, but also in my life. This diminutive lady, has the heart of a lion and because of her caring nature, she is respected by her colleagues, parents and learners alike.
Mrs Pelser, we wish you well in your retirement. You will be missed!
Raadiya Mohammed-Chothia joined Unity in January 2018; a difficult time in the history of the College. In spite of various challenges she went about her daily task with efficiency.
I want to thank her for her contribution during 2018 and wish her well for her future.
There is a need to establish a Unity Alumni association. Some steps have already been taken to ensure that Unity maintains contact with our past students and to create a forum for past students to interact.
The different Phases have done amazing work this year and I have to congratulate all my HODs for the great work that they have done during 2018.
Classes were combined at the beginning of the first term due to the departure of Monya and Caitlin. The Skills for Learning class was then taken over by Marlize, who moved over from the EIC; there were six learners in the class at the time. The class is currently at full capacity with eight learners; three of these learners are ready to move into the Junior 1&2 class. Junior 1, 2, 3 and 4 classes moved into the Junior V class in the first term; at the time there were six learners. This class is currently at full capacity of ten learners; one learner will move to intermediates next year.
We have gone on two shopping outings this year, as well as an outing to the aquatics shop that was greatly enjoyed by all. Our end-of-year outing was a trip to Sunlands Stables , where the children participated in pony games and had the opportunity to feed and interact with other farm animals.
Gala and Sports Day
The junior gala and sports day were well attended. All learners were thrilled to receive medals. Many positive comments were passed by parents who were surprised by what their little people were able to achieve.
The Intermediate Phase started the year with four classes and 20 learners. We had four learners who completed their trial periods and they were all accepted. The four classes were amalgamated into two classes. Although it was a challenging process, both staff and learners soon adjusted. Each class now have 11 learners.
In the first term learners worked hard to prepare for the swimming gala which was a success.
The second term is traditionally the athletics term that was enjoyed by all. The learners went on a shopping outing to practice their maths skills.
Term three started on a busy note with all the rehearsals for the concert taking priority. Learners were taken back to the 1960’s and 2000’s and performed dances from those eras. This concert was a huge success and most importantly learners enjoyed themselves.
The Intermediate learners and staff went on camp to Konka in the fourth week of term four. The camp was well attended and the learners demonstrated bravery and unity as they urged each other to overcome their fears.
Interest group/Prevocational skills
Learners did various activities in interest groups in their different classes. They even made bracelets and necklaces for the Christmas market.
This year was filled with events that the Senior Department and Senior Phase learners were involved in. It will be remembered as an extremely busy and productive year!
- The Senior Phase Orientation Evening was held on 23 January and was well attended. The department outlined plans for the year especially with the newly opened Bridging Class with school-to-work courses and plans for extended work experience days.
- The 7 February the Intermediate and Senior Gala was postponed due to bad weather and was held on an afternoon. Parents commented on a well-run event.
- IDPs held in February (and July/August) were well attended.
- Our Senior Valentine’s Disco was held on Friday 16 February after the Mr and Miss Valentine events. The room was valentine themed, and this social event was enjoyed by the learners who attended. Hotdogs and cool drinks were sold.
- On 1 March 2018 Nicola Walker, a Senior learner, represented Unity College at the SANESA Inter Schools competition and was placed first in her equitation event, a combination of dressage and jumping.
- On 9 March 2018 Special Olympics Soccer and WWE held a Unified Soccer event at Unity College. Titus O’Neil of WWE fame joined other SOSA brand ambassadors to play soccer. The event was covered by Supersport and also by People magazine.
- The Unity College stall at the Eros Isle Country Fayre in Kyalami on 11 March 2018 was manned by some learners and teachers in the Senior Department. Goods made by Senior Phase learners were sold such as braai toasters, bottled jam and infused vinegars. Senior Phase learners in full school uniform worked in shifts and did themselves proud.
- The Bella Anima Fundraiser for Unity College was held on Wednesday 18 April 2018. The food was kindly provided by the Bella Anima Restaurant and various items were auctioned. Anita Wylie interviewed a learner, Raunak Paul and his family, and the event was well covered in the Fourways Review.
- On 19 April 2018 Unity College was represented at the Special Olympics South Africa Summer Games. Anita Wylie and Darren Smit attended the Gala event held in the Linder Auditorium Johannesburg where all the Provincial Teams were presented in their provincial colours. Unity College athletes and their coach, Tonic Sibanda were part of the Gauteng team and looked splendid in their team colours. Nicola Walker won two gold medals in the swimming events.
- Mr Visser, the new Principal of Unity College took office from 23 April 2018. Mrs Wylie was Acting Principal for the period early February to 23 April 2018.
- The Senior Camp was held at Konka from 23 – 25 April 2018. As always it was a memorable camp.
- Saturday 12 May 2018 dawned bright and sunny for our Annual Sports Day. A great time was head by learners and their parents.
- IEB AET examinations in Literacy and Numeracy/Mathematics were held from 30 May to 4 June 2018. One Literacy Level 4 (NQF1) candidate achieved a merit (86%).
- Mandela Day 2018 was celebrated by one group of learners doing a river clean-up, whilst another group took cupcakes to Pembury Retirement Lodge. The residents really appreciated the visit.
- The Spur Shadow Shift Evening on 7 August was well attended by the Unity family. Two raffles drew much interest.
- The Senior Social for term 2 was a Bring & Braai event.
- On Saturday 25 August 2018 Unity College celebrated its 28th birthday / Market / Open Day. The Senior Phase participated by offering their Market Day products and services as part of the Senior Phase’s entrepreneurial course module.
- Unity’s Concert on 20 September 2018 was a fabulous affair. The Senior Phase items were the 1940’s war song medley and the 1980’s dance medley. The seniors showed rhythm and flair.
- On Wednesday 24 October 2018 the learners in the Senior Phase performed their Concert items to the residents of Pembury Retirement Lodge, who showed great appreciation by foot-tapping and singing along to the music.
- The Christmas Market was held on Friday 26 October 2018 and was a well-supported family event. The Senior Phase sold infused vinegars, inspiration boards and bottled jams.
- The IEB AET examinations were held from 30 October to 5 November. We registered a Literacy Level 4 (NQF1) candidate. We wish her all the best!
- Our next event will be the Senior Dance, a much anticipated event on the Senior calendar.
- Two Senior Department teachers, Johann Ackerman and Anita Wylie represented Unity College with Powerpoint presentations at the EduTech Africa 2018 Conference on 10 October 2018. Their slots in the vocational track were well attended.
- An advertorial for Unity College written by Anita Wylie, HOD Senior Phase was placed in the Special Kids e-magazine for parents of special needs learners.
- The Senior Department strongly promoted the adoption of the Differentiated CAPS Curriculum and has been instrumental in planning towards this.
- Ice Skating occurred termly, all Seniors attending and accompanied by Senior Phase teachers.
- Eats & Treats continued to boost Department funds, and will this year fund some of the Senior Dance expenses.
- Senior Phase learners participated in several Special Olympics swimming and soccer events this year.
- The Senior Bridging class operated the weekly tuck shop and made the hot food on sale each week as part of their cookery module.
- Work Experience placements continued throughout the year. From last term a couple of learners opted to do additional Work Experience days to better prepare themselves for the future after Unity College.
- The Senior Phase Prefect and Monitor programme continued this year, with mentoring. It is gratifying to see how some learners have matured and grown into their roles this year.
Vicky Macrides-Brimecomb went on maternity leave in March 2018.
Robyn Gomes carried the position of HOD unofficially until September 2018, when she was appointed HOD. Robyn continues to provide occupational therapy services to the students in need.
Raadiya Mohamed-Chothia was a Locum Speech Therapist for Vicky Macrides-Brimecomb from April 2018 to December 2018. Her contract was not renewed for January 2019.
Beatrix Duvenhage was appointed in the position of part-time speech therapist in October 2018. The position for a full-time speech therapist has been filled, starting in January 2019.
Hazel Kekane continues to execute the role of occupational therapy assistant. Hazel provides gross motor groups, hand writing assistance and prevocational groups to the students.
Marilise Nel joined the therapy team in January 2018 to fulfil the role of Counselling Psychologist on a part-time basis.
Shelagh Popplewell continued her role as the school councillor.
Improvements to the therapy department include suspension being put up in the OT room, for Sensory Integration based therapy to take place. New games and resources were provided to each therapist. The therapy team have taken on one Eats & Treats a term to build up a cash fund for any small items the department may require.
The therapists continue to work closely with the educators to form a cohesive multidisciplinary team. We strive to meet the needs of each learner as a team.
Marketing still remains a priority for Unity College; consequently a number of functions and events were organised to enhance the image of the school within the community. Some of these events were:
- Birthday celebration event
- Christmas market
- Leadership development training where neighbouring principals were invited to attend.
- We advertised the Early Intervention Centre and also did a wonderful advertorial in the Special Kids magazine
- Our Senior Phase embarked on “complimentary” performances at some of our retirement villages.
- Mr Du Preez-Ackermann and Mrs Wylie were speakers at the EduTech Africa conference in October, which was widely advertised on our social media and website for the purpose of public attendance.
In the first term Unity College held the inter-house swimming gala in February. The Red Bishops came first, the Yellow Weavers won the spirit trophy and the Blue Cranes were number two. We also took part in two Special Olympics swimming galas which were held at Wahoo Aquatic Centre. Sixteen of our learners participated in these events.
During this term we also had SOSA Summer National games, which were hosted by Gauteng Province. Unity College had three students who took part in this event including our Sports Co-ordinator Mr Tonic Sibanda. The three learners were Nicola Walker, Liam Share and Zora Wegerif.
During the second term we had our sports day which was successfully held and with a good attendance of parents. The houses competed in track and field events. Red Bishop came first and were closely followed by the Blue Cranes. The Yellow Weavers won the Spirit trophy. During this term Unity College participated in one Special Olympics soccer event, that was hosted by us – nine centres took part.
During the third term we participated in two Special Olympics soccer events hosted by Crest House and Medicos. Our team competed very well against other schools. We also took part in one swimming gala at Ellis Park.
During the fourth term we took part in two Special Olympics swimming galas at Ellis Park. We also hosted a soccer event, which saw six schools taking part. Our learners participated very well.
We are very proud and grateful that we had the assistance from Aqua Marine Swimming Academy during the last term to aid our learners with their swimming. Our association will continue with them during 2019.
It would be remiss of me not to extend a word of appreciation to the Unity Board for their tenacity and for supporting the staff at Unity.
A very special thank you must also go to Dr Staples who has ensured, through his support, that the Unity ship not only will stay afloat, but will gather momentum and will build on the wonderful work that was done during the course of 2018.
On behalf of all staff at Unity College, may I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a prosperous 2019.