Early in 2002, a group of parents living in the Waterberg realised that unless they established an independent, English medium school for their children, their only alternative was to send them away to boarding school. This initial vision soon broadened, as the potential for the school to impact positively on its community and environment became apparent.
The rest of the year was spent procuring the land, fundraising, building, planting grass runners purloined from gardens, painting jungle gyms, making roads using any borrowed tractors available, persuading potential parents to sign up, and sourcing staff. Most of the initial infrastructure was funded by the donations of parents, prospective parents, local farmers and the town’s businesses who understood the need for this school. After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, Waterberg Academy’s doors opened on January 10th 2003 with a total of 4 teachers and 40 learners! By the end of the first year, the number of learners was up to 60.
This achievement heralded an almost unprecedented spirit of cooperation and integration in the area which has been sustained ever since. In the early years parents and supporters in the community donated their services in the form of maintenance of the school grounds and buildings, secretarial duties, library duties, bookkeeping and sports coaching.
Despite being a relatively new school, Waterberg Academy has implemented a scholarship and bursary programme open to all applicants who satisfy the criteria. Our outreach projects have proved very successful and we are proud of the difference we have made in the lives of members of our community. These initiatives are under constant review and development in an effort to maximise our input into the community at large.
The school was able to appoint its first head in 2004. Over the next 3 years major annual fundraisers were held and the school’s infrastructure developed. More classrooms, a sports field, a hall and boarding facilities were built, while numbers continued to increase. The donation of a 25m swimming pool in 2008 added a facility which had never previously existed in the Waterberg. More recently a library block which includes laboratories and offices has been built with funds donated from overseas. Recent donations from the Standard Bank and other benefactors have enabled us to build the first of ultimately three pairs of new classrooms in which to accommodate the growing High School. The first set will open for use in January 2015.
After little more than a decade the impact of Waterberg Academy is apparent. It has ensured the retention of many of the area’s most active economic role players and job providers, and also attracted many new property owners to the area from South Africa and abroad. With these arrivals have come skills, investment, and the economic growth sorely needed in the community.