On Monday, 03 October 2011, visitors to the Castle of Good Hope who had come from near and far, were in for a surprise treat. The announcer spoke over the p.a. system:
“Ladies and gentlemen, we welcome you to the performance of the Western Province Schools Marching Drill and Exhibition Association. …
Let’s give them a warm welcome!”
Before they start with their performance, can I tell you a bit about the history of the marching drill program that is run by the WP SMDEA?
- It was introduced as a life orientation activity (a physical education task) by Ms Lyrice Trussell of the Metro South Education Department and Mr Saeed Ruiters of Portland High School in Mitchell’s Plain.
- It was piloted by Portland HS with overwhelming success, and subsequently rolled out to all schools in the district via a life orientation workshop and cluster meeting in 2007. This program is thus not an extra-mural or after-school voluntary activity, but it is incorporated into the weekly school timetable as a physical education class.
- Educators assess learners on their performance, leadership skills, group work and correct attire, and learners receive year marks for their life orientation portfolio. The schools use the services of community members who are knowledgeable about marching drill in order to teach these skills.
- It is an effective way of improving discipline at schools, and instilling pride in the school and its uniform. Individuals are encouraged to develop leadership abilities, and the squads learn how to follow instructions from squad leaders – it is a two-way process.
- The program fosters a sense of self-worth, achievement, teamwork, pride and discipline. The vision of the WP SMDEA is that all learners who are exposed to the marching drill program will develop into model citizens, positive role models and future leaders.
And now, get ready for a thrilling performance!
Thumpety-thumpety rattatat-rattatat – thumpety-thumpety rattatat-rattatat – THUMPETY-THUMPETY RATTATAT-RATTATAT — The rhythmic sound of the drums became louder and louder, as the boys and girls of the WP SMDEA Drill Squad strode through the beautiful old archway into the front arena of the Castle.
All eyes turned to watch the neatly attired Drill Squad in their black pants, white shirts, shiny blue vests and blue peaked caps, as they marched past in close formation.
They were a familiar sight at the Castle, having performed here during the 2010 Soccer World Cup in June-July 2010, as well as during the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2010 last November. This group is made up of learners from various schools around the Western Cape, including primary schools and high schools in Mitchell’s Plain, and high schools in Manenberg, Beaufort West and the Strand. The best students from the various drill squads come together to make up this Drill Squad.
The relentlessly thumping beats of the drums, which thundered and reverberated all around the massive Castle walls, ensured that the youngsters maintained a cracking pace throughout their routine, earning them well-deserved applause.