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Jeremy Ontong

I am the current principal of Phoenix Secondary School in Manenberg. This is only my second year.

I became involved in the partnership through our school exchange program in 2009. As the host school teacher I assisted in the School Garden Project which our German counterparts funded and helped building. I was involved in the planning and also with coordinating of the actual work program at the school level involving the learners, both from Phoenix and Kreisgymnasium Heinsberg. I also attended the project at Edith Stevens Wetland Park, involving the cleaning of the Water Hyacinth from the wetland.

I became more directly involved through my love for cycling when bikes were sent and donated to our school. They came from Aachen as part of the partnership and the purpose of the bikes was to address learner absenteeism and late coming. It wasn’t really practical in our context and I decided to keep the bikes at school and then established the Phoenix Cycling Club in 2010. Cycling then became part of the exchange activity when the Heinsberg group of 2012 came in October of that year. I became more involved from a hosting school point of view, joining them on their trips and being involved with the benches project at our school.

Good relationships were formed amongst the members of both schools and in 2013, myself and 4 learners had the unbelievable opportunity to visit our partnering school in Heinsberg, Germany (26 June – 11 July). We renovated one of their school gardens as the traditional partnership project. One more exchange visit to each school followed, but things became quiet the last few years. Some of us are trying to blow some life back into the exchange program. Hopefully it will be up and running soon.